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Five Officials Punished over Taihu Lake Pollution Crisis
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Five officials in east China's Yixing city of Jiangsu Province have been punished in the wake of the Taihu Lake pollution crisis that choked off freshwater supply to more than 2 million people, local government said on Monday.

The officials are the town head of Zhoutie, his deputy, a lower-level town official in charge of environment protection and two senior officials with the Yixing bureau of environment protection, local sources said.

Zhoutie is a town full of chemical plants. A few plants continued to discharge sewage into Taihu Lake after the pollution crisis.

The officials were accused of dereliction of duty and received demerits and demotions. But the sources declined to specify the exact punishment of each official.

Plants discharging pollutants into Taihu Lake have been closed off in Zhoutie town, the sources said.

The Taihu Lake crisis started last month, as the low water level and the accumulation of waste and untreated sewage triggered the rapid growth of blue algae, turning the water putrid and cutting freshwater supply to more than 2 million residents.

Authorities diverted water from the Yangtze River to flush out the pollution, and used chemicals to treat the algae.

Workers have collected 6,000 tons of blue-algae from the lake, and local health authorities say that tap water once again meets drinking standards.

China's main environmental protection body has vowed to strengthen supervision and close all factories that discharge pollutants into Taihu Lake.

(Xinhua News Agency June 12, 2007)

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