Worker fined after Yangtze River town’s drinking water turns green

Bashui residents awoke to find malodorous, sticky fluid coming out of their taps after water company employee accidentally opened the wrong valve

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 August, 2017, 3:52pm
UPDATED : Friday, 18 August, 2017, 4:27pm

An employee of a water plant has been fined 2,000 yuan (US$300) for mistakenly opening the wrong valve – unleashing waste water into the drinking supply of a Yangtze River town on Monday.

More than 40,000 residents of Bashui, in Xishui county, Hubei, awoke to find a malodorous, green sticky fluid coming out of their taps that morning, Chutian Metropolis Daily reported on Thursday.

“It gave me the creeps just looking at it – it was utterly disgusting,” one resident was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

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Shops in the town sold out of bottled water over the next few days as panicked residents stocked up.

The local government shut down speculation that the drinking water supply had been contaminated by chemicals from a new paper mill located upstream from the town, saying it was still being built and had nothing to do with the problem, the report said.

Authorities told the newspaper that a valve had been mistakenly opened but it was shut off within hours.

All staff at the plant had been called in for a clean-up operation to flush out the contaminated pipelines and the drinking water supply had been restored by Monday afternoon, they said.

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The staff member responsible was penalised, while a deputy manager of the water company was also fined 1,000 yuan for the error.

But that was not enough for some residents, who told the newspaper that the water plant was nearly four decades old and its equipment and technology were no longer adequate to supply the growing population of the town.

They also complained that the town’s water was polluted by effluent and industrial waste from nearby farms and factories.