06/16/2006, 00.00
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Toxic coal tar threatens water supply of 10 million people in Shanxi

Road accident causes spill; 60 tonnes of toxic coal tar accidentally dumped into a river. Water reservoir that serves city of Baoding is threatened. Chemical factory explosions in Zhejiang threaten spring that feeds Oujiang River.

Beijing (AsiaNews/SCMP) – Workers in the central province of Shanxi were scrambling yesterday to clean up 60 tonnes of toxic coal tar accidentally dumped into a river before it reached a reservoir serving a city of 10 million.

Cotton padding, sponges, straw and activated carbon were being used to try to absorb the coal tar—a known human carcinogen—before it reached the Wangkuai Reservoir that serves Baoding, a city of about 10 million people in neighbouring Hebei, Xinhua reported.

The coal tar was spilt into the Dasha River on Monday when a truck carrying it fell into the river. The driver has been arrested.

Baoding is about 70 kilometres from the site of the accident but the pollution is travelling downstream at about 1 kilometre per hour. The authorities have set up 24 dams along the river to intercept the spill.

By Tuesday, the pollution reached Hebei's Fuping County, where about 50,000 residents relied on the river for drinking water. Fuping residents were told to take water from nearby reservoirs and seven standby wells until the river could be cleaned.

In a separate incident, a chemical factory discharged poisonous gas after several blasts in the eastern province of Zhejiang.

Two people are missing as a result of the accident and 800 people evacuated after the accident in Longquan.

Explosions continued six hours after the first blast at 8 am at Zhejiang Longxin Chemical, which produces hydrogen peroxide.

According to Xinhua, toxic fumes released by the blasts could contaminate a spring that feeds the Oujiang River, which flows through Wenzhou and Lishui cities.

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See also
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Toxic chemical into the Songhua River leads to environmental emergency
UN says Beijing should have informed the population of the Songhua toxic spill
Cadmium spill in the Beijiang River leaves millions of people without water
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