Floods wash chemical barrels into China river

Jul 29, 2010
Barrels from a chemical plant float in the Songhua river in Jilin, northeast China's Jilin province on July 28, 2010. Floodwaters have washed 3,000 barrels of explosive chemicals into a major waterway in northeastern China, state media has said, much more than originally reported.

Floodwaters have washed 3,000 barrels of explosive chemicals into a major waterway in northeastern China, state media said Thursday, much more than originally reported.

Water supplies to the nearby city of Jilin were cut after the incident, leaving 4.3 million people dependent on bottled water, but the local government said the move was unrelated and caused by an electricity maintenance project.

The chemicals were among 7,000 barrels washed into the Songhua River in Jilin province on Wednesday after days of heavy rain, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing the local government.

The barrels came from the Xinyaqiang plant near the city and contained more than 510 tonnes of combustible chemicals, reports said.

Xinhua has said the chemical was methyl chloride, a highly explosive colourless gas. It said Thursday that 7,000 barrels were swept into the river, with 3,000 barrels containing the chemical while the rest were empty.

A report Wednesday had said some barrels contained trimethyl chloro silicane, a pungent, flammable liquid that gives off hydrochloric acid when it reacts with water.

More than 200 workers were trying to recover the barrels and had retrieved 400 so far, reports said.

Jilin is the latest province to be hit by deadly floods that have killed 333 people since July 14 and left another 300 missing, according to the latest official figures.

Local environmental protection authorities monitoring the of the Songhua river have so far detected no contamination, the China Daily said.

Despite assurances that local water was safe to drink, authorities cut the supply to the city of 4.3 million on Wednesday, the newspaper said, triggering a run on bottled water.

In 2005, millions of people in northeastern Heilongjiang province were left without for four days after an explosion at a benzene factory spilled the carcinogenic chemical into the Songhua River.

Explore further: Seafood supply altered by climate change

Related Stories

Toxic spill from China copper mine spreads

Jul 20, 2010

A toxic pollution spill from a mine operated by China's top gold producer Zijin Mining Group has spread to a second province, threatening the fishing industry there, state media said Tuesday.

China drought leaves millions short of water

Mar 17, 2010

Millions of people face drinking water shortages in southwestern China because of a once-a-century drought that has dried up rivers and threatens vast farmlands, state media reported Wednesday.

Recommended for you

Seafood supply altered by climate change

51 minutes ago

The global supply of seafood is set to change substantially and many people will not be able to enjoy the same quantity and dishes in the future due to climate change and ocean acidification, according to UBC scientists.

Water point 'bank machines' boost Kenya slums

7 hours ago

Around the world people use bank machines to access cash: but in the Kenyan capital's crowded slums, people now use similar machines to access an even more basic requirement—clean water.

Nemo's garden off Italy offers hope for seabed crops

8 hours ago

In the homeland of pesto, a group of diving enthusiasts have come up with a way of growing basil beneath the sea that could revolutionise crop production in arid coastal areas around the world.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.