A river popular with tourists was badly polluted by a chemical plant spillage in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province. The plant responsible for the pollution has been ordered to reduce production for the next few months.
Nanjing Titanium Dioxide Chemicals, a state-owned factory and one of the country's top titanium producers, discharged more than 3,000 tons of untreated industrial waste into the Nanhe River on the outskirts of Nanjing.
The pollution entered the Qinhuai River which in turn joins the Nanhe in Nanjing and flows into the city center. The pollution flowed into the city. When it arrived, local residents complained about the smell and the local environmental protection bureau launched an investigation.
The incident occurred because a dam built last year to block pollution from the Nanhe River flowing into the Qinhuai was torn down. The demolition of the dam last Friday, required by the local government because it's dredging the city's whole water system, led to the uncontrolled discharge of pollution into the Qinhuai.
According to Liu Xingxiang, a 63-year-old resident living on the Qinhuai, the river adds to the city's charm and influenced the whole urban planning framework for the ancient capital. The local government spent 3 billion yuan (US$375 million) last year cleaning up the river and improving sightseeing zones along its banks.
"However, the recent pollution means this clean-up was in vain," said Liu. "It might also influence other cities along the lower reaches of Yangtze River. It's really a great pity." He added that he could not bear the unpleasant smell from the polluted river and had seen many dead fish floating on top of the yellow-colored water.
The local government has promised a clean up. Lu Pinggui, deputy secretary-general of Nanjing city government, announced yesterday that a new dam between the two rivers would be built immediately to block pollutants from further polluting the Qinhuai River.
And Nanjing Titanium Dioxide Chemicals Ltd has been told to reduce production capacity and ensure all of its wastewater is treated and meets environmental protection standards before being discharged into the Nanhe River.
The factory has its own wastewater management system, but it can deal with only 1,000 tons of such material a day. However, with a production capacity of 250,000 tons per year, the factory's waste discharge systems can't meet the demand, said a factory worker surnamed Zhang.
The factory is scheduled to move out of the city by the end of 2007 as part of Nanjing's urban plan.
Lu said a special environmental supervision team would check the factory every day and it could be forced to close down ahead of schedule if it didn’t fulfill environment protection promises. Lu added that the Nanhe River's polluted water would be diverted to the city's wastewater management system for purification.
(China Daily August 30, 2006)