Sulphur plant pollutes reservoir in Chongqing

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 August, 2014, 5:36am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 August, 2014, 5:36am

A reservoir in Chongqing has been contaminated by a sulphur processing plant, threatening the safety of water supplies to more than 50,000 villagers in nearby areas, state media reported yesterday.

Environmental protection officials found traces of the chemical compound sodium ethyl xanthate in the reservoir in Wushan county, Xinhua reported.

The compound is widely used in the mining industry and repeated exposure to the chemical can cause damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys.

Water supplied by the reservoir to four townships was cut off.

State media reported the incident four days after residents in Miaoyu township told officials about the contamination on Wednesday morning.

The water in the reservoir appeared to be grey and had a pungent smell, Tao Jiakui, a resident in the area, told Xinhua.

Wastewater with a strong smell of chemicals was seen pouring into the reservoir through a 1.5 metre-wide drainage pipe, Xinhua said.

The level of iron in water samples was also more than 30 times higher than national safety standards, the China News Service reported.

The reservoir was sealed to stop the contamination of other water sources.

The sulphur plant blamed for the water contamination was also shut down while an investigation was carried out, state media reported.

Nie Hongxia, the owner of a bee farm in Miaoyu, said: "I was confused when I found there was no water coming out of my tap on Friday."

Nie said her family had to cart drinking water from a temporary supply station over the past two days and they had not been told why the township was out of fresh water.

Additional reporting by Keira Lu Huang