Home » International News » 2011 » August » August 20, 2011

China probes chemical company's dumping of carcinogenic chemicals near major river

August 20, 2011 - Beijing

China's apex environmental agency has launched a probe into a chemical company's dumping of carcinogenic industrial chemicals, which could contaminate the Chachong reservoir and pose a human health hazard.

Over 5,000 tons of chromium effuents from Yunnan Luliang Chemical Industry was illegally dumped near the Nanpan River in the upper reaches of Pearl River.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection investigators have already arrived at Qujing in Southwest China's Yunnan province to initiate the probe, the city's information office said.

They will gauge the extent of pollution in the Chachong Reservoir in Yuezhou and the Nanpan River, which feeds into the Pearl River, a major river flowing through southern China.

The investigators will also focus on the impact of the carcinogenic industrial chemicals on human health and the environment in the area.

They will assess the safety of heavy industrial plants in Luliang county, Qujing Information Deputy Director Quan Ende said.

The probe by Ministry of Water Resources committee had earlier found excessive hexavalent chromium (chromium VI), a carcinogen, at the company's dumping sites.

The committee also found at least 14 residents have been diagnosed with cancer since 2002 and many of them suspect their illness was caused by contaminated drinking water.

The committee has recommended that authorities closely monitor the rivers to prevent potential pollution in China.

"Hexavalent chromium poses great health dangers. Drinking water polluted with it could cause acute poisoning symptoms. But there are no reports of deaths caused by it," the China Daily quoted Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences researcher Liu Xiaoduan, as saying.

"People could have ingested some chromium VI by eating plants growing in contaminated soil, but it takes longer for the buildup of the poison to exceed safe levels", he added.


Comment on this story