Seven Fired Over Toxic Metal Spill

 Seven officials in southern China have been fired because of their failure to report the recent cadmium spill in Guangxi. When the spill first occurred, people in the region continued to use the contaminated water. This spill contaminated the drinking water for millions of people and affected the fish in the region. The New York Times reports:

The spill, which affected 200 miles of the Longjiang River in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, was caused by two companies that accidentally released tons of cadmium into the river last month. The contamination was not reported for at least two weeks, during which people continued to use the water for drinking and cooking.

According to the official Xinhua news agency, among those fired from their jobs was the head of environmental protection in the city of Hechi, which failed to report the spill and then botched the attempted cleanup. Several other officials, including the city’s deputy mayor, were reportedly disciplined. The police have also arrested six people at the Hongquan Lithopone Factory and the Jinhe Mining Company, which are blamed for the spill. Four other managers at the companies have fled, Xinhua reported.

During a news conference in Hechi on Friday, officials said that 90,000 pounds of fish and more than a million fry had been killed and that several hundred villagers downstream had consumed river water for five days before they were notified about the dangers.

Authorities claim that it will take approximately one month to clean up the cadmium spill, but officials have said that the tap water in the region is safe to drink. The Times of India adds:

Efforts to cleanup industrial effluents from a major river in south China will take a month, authorities said on Friday.

Cadmium concentration in Liujiang river is expected to drop below the official limit Feb 28, China Daily quoted Xu Zhencheng, head of the emergency panel, as saying.

Cleanup efforts have brought down cadmium levels from 80 times to 20 times the official limit of 0.005 milligrams per litre Thursday, said professor Zhang Xiaojian of Tsinghua University.

The contamination was first detected Jan 15. A plant belonging to Jinhe Mining Co. Ltd. is suspected to be the source of the spill. A 300-km section of the river is affected.

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