Chinese smelter found leaking thallium into river

Oct 22, 2010
File photo shows workers clearing waste from the heavily polluted Pearl River in southern China's Guangdong province. China suffers from widespread water pollution after years of unbridled economic growth. According to government data, more than 200 million Chinese currently do not have access to safe drinking water.

A major state-owned industrial conglomerate in China said Friday it had been ordered to stop production at one of its smelters after it was found to be leaking highly toxic thallium into a river.

Shenzhen Zhongjin Lingnan Nonfemet Co Ltd (NONFEMET) said in a statement that environmental authorities had found excess thallium in the middle and upper reaches of the Bei River in the southern province of Guangdong.

"It was determined through expert consultations, investigations and monitoring by environmental authorities that the excessive thallium was caused by sewage from the firm's smelter in Shaoguan city," it said.

"The Shaoguan smelter completely stopped production on October 21 at the request of the provincial government, and is now actively coordinating with the government's investigations," it added.

Thallium is a highly toxic metal that enters the environment mostly through coal-burning and smelting. It can affect the nervous system, lungs, heart, liver, and kidneys, and even cause death.

China suffers from widespread after years of unbridled economic growth. According to government data, more than 200 million Chinese currently do not have access to safe drinking water.

But the Asian nation, which has pledged to slash its per unit of by 20 percent between 2006 and 2010, is seeking to reduce pollution and clean up the environment.

It has implemented measures such as ordering the closure of thousands of highly polluting plants and threatening to rescind promotions for officials if they fail to meet environmental targets, but accidents still occur.

A toxic waste spill at a copper plant in July in southeastern China devastated marine life and earned its parent company Zijin Mining a 1.4-million-dollar fine.

NONFEMET, one of China's 500 largest companies, is listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

It said in its statement to the exchange that the impact on the river had now been "effectively controlled" but gave no more details on the amount of thallium that was discovered.

Calls to the Shaoguan environmental protection department went unanswered.

Explore further: Pact with devil? California farmers use oil firms' water

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 closes factories as green deadline looms

Aug 22, 2010

China, facing the risk of embarrassment if it misses a looming environmental deadline, has ordered thousands of companies to close high-polluting plants as its leadership vies to retool economic growth.

China punished 3,176 industrial polluters

May 07, 2007

China closed down 3,176 companies last year for violations of environmental regulations as part of a nationwide effort to control industrial pollution.

China: Will ensure stimulus protects environment

Jun 05, 2009

(AP) -- China said Friday it will strictly monitor the government's economic stimulus package for projects that cause pollution, addressing worries that officials would ignore the environment in an effort to maintain China's ...

Recommended for you

Gimmicks and technology: California learns to save water

Jul 03, 2015

Billboards and TV commercials, living room visits, guess-your-water-use booths, and awards for water stinginess—a wealthy swath of Orange County that once had one of the worst records for water conservation ...

Cities, regions call for 'robust' world climate pact

Jul 03, 2015

Thousands of cities, provinces and states from around the world urged national governments on Thursday to deliver a "robust, binding, equitable and universal" planet-saving climate pact in December.

Will climate change put mussels off the menu?

Jul 03, 2015

Climate change models predict that sea temperatures will rise significantly, including in the tropics. In these areas, rainfall is also predicted to increase, reducing the salt concentration of the surface ...

As nations dither, cities pick up climate slack

Jul 02, 2015

Their national governments hamstrung by domestic politics, stretched budgets and diplomatic inertia, many cities and provinces have taken a leading role—driven by necessity—in efforts to arrest galloping ...

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.