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Too Many Chinese Chemical Plants Said Built Near Rivers

A polluted stream flows beside a chemical factory in Wuhu, central China's Anhui province 10 September 2006. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Sep 11, 2006
China witnesses a water pollution accident almost every other day because chemical plants and factories are often built near rivers, state media said Monday. In the 300 days since mid-November last year, the nation counted a total of 130 incidents in which waterways were polluted by industry, Xinhua news agency said, citing the State Environmental Protection Administration.

"The main reason (is) not enough consideration was taken concerning the protection of the environment and the capacity of localities to handle pollution," Pan Yue, the administration's deputy chief, was quoted as saying.

China was alerted to the environmental hazard posed by its chemicals industry when a plant in the northeastern province of Jilin exploded on November 13 spilling tonnes of toxic benzene into the Songhua River.

The spill contaminated the drinking water of millions as the polluted water flowed through neighboring Heilongjiang province to eastern Russia.

Pan said the frequent incidents were related to the "irrational" distribution of industry, with over 20,000 chemical plants built on rivers.

Up to 10,000 plants sat along the banks of China's longest river, the Yangtze, while 4,000 chemical plants were on the Yellow River, he said.

Many plants were located near major drinking water sources or large population centers, he added.

As part of the government's ongoing efforts to raise environmental awareness, the administration would make information on pollution accidents public as soon as they happened, Pan said.

In related news, Xinhua said no injuries or poisonings had been reported so far after waste water from the holding pond of a chemical plant in central Hunan province last week began seeping into a local river.

Arsenic trioxide leaked into the Xinqiang river in Hunan's Yueyang county prompting the government to urge locals not to drink the water.

Arsenic trioxide could cause vomiting, stomach pain and even cancer and death, Xinhua said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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