China Cadmium Spill Threatens Drinking Water for Millions

A cancer-causing cadmium discharge from a mining company has polluted a long stretch of two rivers in southern China, and officials warned some 3.7 million people of Liuzhou in the Guangxi region to avoid drinking water from the river, state media reported on Friday.

BEIJING (Reuters) – A cancer-causing cadmium discharge from a mining company has polluted a long stretch of two rivers in southern China, and officials warned some 3.7 million people of Liuzhou in the Guangxi region to avoid drinking water from the river, state media reported on Friday.

Pollution of waterways by toxic run-offs from factories and farms is a pressing issue in China, prompting authorities to call for policy tightening, though the problem shows no sign of going away.

Officials opened sluices at four upstream hydrological stations on the Longjiang River, a tributary to the Liujiang that runs through Liuzhou, hoping to dilute the pollutants after the toxic metal cadmium was first detected nearly two weeks ago in Hechi, Xinhua state news agency said.

Many fish died despite efforts by local fire officials to dissolve the cadmium by pouring hundreds of tonnes of neutralizers into the river, and authorities reported panic buying of bottled water by local residents.

Xinhua said officials blamed the Guangxi Jinhe Mining Co. for the January 15 spill, but it was not clear how long the company had been discharging the chemical into the river or how much had had been released.

As of Friday, elevated levels of cadmium were being detected in Liuzhou, more than 130 km downstream from the plant, according to the report.

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