5,000 evacuated after chlorine leak

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 April, 2007, 12:00am

More than 5,000 Harbin students and residents were evacuated yesterday morning after a chlorine leak at a water plant in Heilongjiang province .

The Yilan county water plant was next to a high school attended by more than 2,000 students. All teachers and students were safely evacuated, Xinhua reported.

A county firefighter last night said the leak also forced the evacuation of more than 3,000 residents but nobody was poisoned by the fumes.

The officer initially denied the leak had occurred but then said firefighters brought the situation under control by noon.

'It is an extremely trivial accident ... the chlorine involved would only fill up two small basins. I don't think the media should make a fuss about it,' he said. The leak is the third incident of its kind reported on the mainland this week.

A high school teacher working at another school about 3km from the leak site said his school was told about the incident, but did not receive any instructions to evacuate.

He said the affected area was in the city's southeastern suburbs, and the wind was blowing away from the county. Had the wind changed, the situation may have been different, he said.

The teacher said the community's water supply was not affected.

Yilan town, where the county government is located, has about 80,000 residents and its centre is about 2km from the water plant.

In 2004, nine people were killed and 150,000 had to be evacuated after a chlorine leak at a chemical plant in Chongqing .