The source of drinking water for local residents in Yueyang County in central China's Hunan Province has been found polluted with arsenide, the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) said in a press release on Saturday.
At 15:00 PM Friday, workers of the environmental monitoring center of Yueyang City conducted a routine measuring of water quality for Xinqiang River, the source for local water plant, and found that its content of arsenide was 10 times higher than official standards.
The incident drew great attention from the State Council and local governments.
The provincial government of Hunan initiated an emergency plan for dealing with environmental accidents, while a headquarters to handle the accident was been set up in the county with a population of over 100,000. The SEPA has sent a group of officials and experts to the site.
Local authorities have issued a circular to warn residents not to drink the tap water. Meanwhile, 18 fire engines have been sent to distribute drinking water to the people.
At 1:00 AM Saturday, the Tieshan Reservoir on the upper streams began increasing its discharge of water to help dilute the pollution in the river and accelerate the speed of water flow of the polluted river.
Local authorities have also allowed to use underground water source, which is able to supply 1,500 tons of clean drinking water to the residents.
Currently, local environmental departments have uncovered the source of pollution -- a chemical plant in Linxiang City, 50 kilometers upriver, where the leakage of a waste water pond caused the pollution.
Now the factory has been shut down.
According to environmental experts, arsenic trioxide is a kind of white powder which is very poisonous. Humans poisoned with arsenide may feel sick, vomit, get stomach pain, convulsion in limbs. It may lead to coma, twitch or even death.
A chronic intake of arsenide by humans may cause damages to liver and kidney or lung cancer and skin cancer.
(Xinhua News Agency September 10, 2006)