Henan landfill threatens to pollute Beijing's drinking water

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 March, 2013, 10:11pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 March, 2013, 12:28am

A giant mountain of rubbish in Henan province is threatening to pollute a reservoir that provides drinking water for more than 20 million Beijing residents, the Beijing News reported on Friday.

Xinglong county began depositing rubbish in Qingsongling rubbish dump in 1989. Once a 50-metre deep valley, the rubbish dump was completely full when it was closed in 2009. The rubbish mountain now occupies an area of 23,000 square metres.

The report said every time heavy rains hit the region, floods carry garbage along a small river to the Yangzhuang reservoir, which connects to Jinhai Lake, Beijing’s major water resource.

Officials of Urban Management Bureau who were supposed to oversee the site could not be reached for comment, the report said.

The local government built a dam next to the former rubbish site. “It is designed to stop rain from flushing refuse into the lower reaches, but it is absolutely useless,” residents of nearby Longwo village told the News.

Moreover, real danger comes from beneath. Zhao Zhangyuan from the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences said that valleys were not suitable sites for use as rubbish dumps. The soil underneath was likely to be soft rock, he said, which could allow pollutants to leak through and contaminate ground water.

Chen Liwen, a researcher for Green Beagle Environment Institute, added that the rubbish in the dump would gradually pollute the soil beneath and nearby, causing the heavy metal content to exceed safety standards.

Every summer swarms of flies and bad smells plague residents of Longwo, which is situated close to the site.

Villagers told the News, “The white wall would turn to black,” when asked how many flies were there.

Rotten pig and chicken carcasses among the trash also attracted flocks of crows, they said, which severely damaged farm crops. The government gave the 60 households insecticide worth 700 yuan as compensation, the villagers told the paper.