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Sichuan Water Supply Disrupted by Chemical Spill
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For years, Guanyin Town had prided itself on the quality of its water supply.

Potentially polluting factories were not allowed to be set up along the banks of the river for a 100-kilometre stretch around the city of Yibin, in which Guanyin is the biggest town.

But it was helpless in the face of a chemical spill from a power plant in the upper reaches of Yuexi River last week which contaminated the water at the intake point and disrupted water supply for more than 20,000 residents in the Sichuan Province town from last Wednesday.

Residents have been relying on water trucked in from a town 23 kilometres away. And although the local government pressed six fire trucks into service, the supply has not been able to meet demand.

"Our family has not bathed or washed clothes for four days," a woman told Huaxi Cosmopolitan News, a Chengdu-based newspaper. "It really has caused great inconvenience."

An official surnamed Liu from the environmental protection bureau of Yibin said yesterday afternoon: "Currently, the amount of fluoride in Yuexi River is double the permitted level."

The spill was discovered on Tuesday when an employee of the local water supply company noticed water at the intake point turning yellow.

The local government activated an emergency plan: Water supply in Guanyin was suspended and 20 tons of water from another town was trucked in on Wednesday to provide temporary relief.

(China Daily February 20, 2006)

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