Yangtze river pollution sparks panic in China

Feb 08, 2012
This file photo shows a man fishing in the Jialing River, a branch of Yangtze River. A cargo ship spilled acid into China's longest river last week, contaminating tap supplies and sparking a run on bottled water in eastern China, the government and state media said.

A cargo ship spilled acid into China's longest river last week, contaminating tap supplies and sparking a run on bottled water in eastern China, the government and state media said.

It is the nation's second scare in a month, after factories in the southern region of Guangxi supplies for millions with toxic cadmium and other waste in January.

The ship, reportedly South Korean, was docked in Zhenjiang city on the last Thursday when it leaked phenol -- an acid used in detergents -- into the because of a faulty valve, reported.

Residents started complaining their tap water had a strange smell on Friday, and soon rumours that a capsized ship was polluting the river sparked a run on bottled water in at least two cities in Jiangsu province, the Shanghai Daily said.

One photo carried by the official newspaper showed a supermarket shelf stripped nearly bare as a customer loaded water bottles into a shopping cart.

The water quality had now returned to normal, the government of Zhenjiang, in Jiangsu, said in a statement late Tuesday.

A resident in the city of three million told AFP the run on water appeared to have eased on Wednesday.

"There was panic buying of bottled water for a couple of days. But it stopped after we received a government notice clarifying that the is safe now," the resident, who declined to be named, told AFP.

Zhenjiang officials would not comment when contacted by AFP on Wednesday. The South Korean Consulate in Shanghai, meanwhile, said it was not aware of the incident.

Phenol -- also called carbolic acid -- can irritate the eyes and skin, damage the liver and kidneys, and impair the nervous system if absorbed, according to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The incident comes hot on the heels of the more serious environmental scandal in Guangxi, where a 300-kilometre (190-mile) section of the Longjiang River was polluted by toxic cadmium and other waste.

Authorities have detained at least eight company executives and punished nine government officials over the case.

Many waterways in China have become heavily contaminated with toxic waste from factories and farms -- pollution blamed on more than three decades of rapid economic growth and lax enforcement of environmental protection laws.

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Jonseer
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 09, 2012
You'd think with all the horror stories about the overall pollution in the Yangtze river that it had become a river of raw sewage, foulness in its most raw man made form.

Turns out however the stories are overblown when you put it in the context of compared to the conditions in other major rivers in the world.

Despite all the pollution, thanks to its enormous flow the Yangtze is no more polluted than the Mississippi if recent research is accurate.

It makes me wonder if the Yangtze is considered such a horrible case of pollution that we nary hear a word about our own Mississippi.

I guess it's all about making us look "over there" so we don't notice our own riparian foulness in the form of the Mississippi.
Jonseer
1 / 5 (2) Feb 09, 2012
You'd think with all the horror stories about the overall pollution in the Yangtze river that it had become a river of raw sewage, foulness in its most raw man made form.

Turns out however the stories are overblown when you put it in the context of compared to the conditions in other major rivers in the world.

Despite all the pollution, thanks to its enormous flow the Yangtze is no more polluted than the Mississippi if recent research is accurate.

It makes me wonder if the Yangtze is considered such a horrible case of pollution we don't hear even more about our own Mississippi considering it's our river.

I guess it's all about making us look "over there" so we don't notice our own riparian foulness in the form of the Mississippi.
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Feb 09, 2012
The Chinese appear to be fast learners.

These problems will not persist for long.
jsdarkdestruction
not rated yet Feb 09, 2012
china really needs to work on this. So many species are so close to extinction. you'd think the loss of the once revered bajii would of drove the point home better.

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