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: Changing global diets is vital to reducing climate change

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

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

Changing global diets is vital to reducing climate change

15 hours ago

A new study, published today in Nature Climate Change, suggests that – if current trends continue – food production alone will reach, if not exceed, the global targets for total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissi ...

Water police on patrol in drought-scarred Los Angeles

22 hours ago

Los Angeles isn't the world's wettest city at the best of times. But a record drought has triggered extra measures—now including "water police" checking on over-zealous sprinkler users and the like.

Shell files new plan to drill in Arctic

Aug 29, 2014

Royal Dutch Shell has submitted a new plan for drilling in the Arctic offshore Alaska, more than one year after halting its program following several embarrassing mishaps.

Reducing water scarcity possible by 2050

Aug 29, 2014

Water scarcity is not a problem just for the developing world. In California, legislators are currently proposing a $7.5 billion emergency water plan to their voters; and U.S. federal officials last year ...

User comments : 0