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Officials Sacked over Arsenide Pollution
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The head and a deputy head of a local environmental protection bureau have been fired over an arsenide spill that caused a water shortage for 80,000 people for four days in central China's Hunan Province.

Chen Lin, director of the Linxiang City Environmental Protection Bureau, and Liu Yushu, one of the bureau's deputy directors, were removed from office for the bureau's lax supervision of the companies that caused the pollution, according to government sources with the Yueyang City.

Warnings and other penalties were given to five other officials, including Hu Zhirong, the secretary of the Linxiang city committee of the Communist Party of China, Lu Shuhua, vice mayor of Linxiang city, and Mao Zhibing, acting mayor of Linxiang.

The pollution was reported on Sept. 8, when workers from the local environmental monitoring center conducted routine testing of water quality in the Xinqiang River of Yueyang County and found the content of arsenide was ten times higher than normal.

Two chemical plants, the Yueyang Haoyuan Chemical Plant and the Taolin Lead-Zinc Ore Chemical Plant, both less than 20 km from the polluted river, were blamed for illegal discharges of a highly toxic arsenic compound into the river.

The two plants have since been closed.

The pollution forced the local government to suspend drinking water supplies to 80,000 people for four days. No casualties were reported. A chronic intake of arsenide could cause liver and kidney damage or lung and skin cancer.

Investigators said the two plants severely violated environmental laws and regulations.

The local government also violated rules when issuing pollutant discharging permits and were lax in their supervision, they said.

Managers of the two companies, Yao Zhaohui and Liu Chengping, have been arrested. They may face criminal charges and prosecution.

(Xinhua News Agency October 3, 2006)

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