China toxic chemical spill poisons drinking water supply for millions of residents

A ruptured valve at a China fertilizer factory caused a toxic chemical to be released into the Zhuozhang River, poisoning the drinking water supply for thousands of residents.

BEIJING, CHINA, Jan. 8, 2013 -- On Dec. 31, a ruptured valve at a China fertilizer factory caused nearly 40 tons of aniline, a toxic, carcinogenic chemical, to be released into the Zhuozhang River, poisoning the drinking water supply for thousands of residents in Changzhi town in Shanxi, a northern region of China.

Local government officials took almost a week to reveal the accident and apologized for the delay in reporting it, according to the China Daily.

Neighboring provinces, including Hebei, cut off water supply to more than one million people from the contamination on Jan. 5. The supply was restored on Jan. 6 using groundwater, but the contamination level in the river was 2.15 milligrams per liter, according to Liu Dashan, spokesman for Shanxi's Environmental Protection Bureau. The national standard allows less than 0.1 mg per liter of aniline for the river water to be drinkable.

According to the Financial Times, Changzhi officials shut down 112 chemical plants on Jan. 7 until emergency inspections are completed.

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