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Authorities Tackle Toll of Poison Leak
Water monitoring authorities in South China's Guangdong Province have promised to increase the frequency of water quality tests after the accidental dumping of seven tons of arsenic in the Jinxiu River, upper reaches of Xijiang River, on Wednesday.

Samples have been taken from the different sections of the Xijiang River, a tributary of Pearl River in South China after experts estimated that the poisonous water arrived in Guangdong Province on Saturday night.

Guangdong water monitoring authorities have been keeping a close eye on the situation after the incident in the upper reaches of the Pearl River, in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Lin Guihua, deputy director of the provincial water environment center, said that they would increase the frequency of water quality tests in the next two to four days and take measures accordingly.

According to Lin, there should be no serious effect on the province, since the incident took place quite far away, and the local authority has diluted the polluted water with 50 tons of lime, which helps reduce the arsenic's toxicity.

But the Information Times, quoting experts, challenged this assertion, stating that "arsenic is very poisonous indeed and the lime may actually result in further pollution."

Recent tests showed that, before the arrival of the poisonous water, the river water was clean enough to drink. Further tests will reveal the damage which has been done to the river.

The arsenic was owned by a small smelting factory in Guangxi.

According to local residents, the factory has been the major source of pollution in the village for a long time. It is a serious threat to both public health and the natural environment.

(China Daily December 16, 2002)

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