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Dead fish spark cyanide contamination fears in China river

A large number of dead fish spotted in China's Tianjin river sparked fresh fears about possible contamination of water due to hazardous chemical leaks after deadly blasts in the major port city, but officials today insisted no toxic levels of cyanide have been detected.



Tianjin: A large number of dead fish spotted in China's Tianjin river sparked fresh fears about possible contamination of water due to hazardous chemical leaks after deadly blasts in the major port city, but officials today insisted no toxic levels of cyanide have been detected.

Pictures showing large quantities of dead fish in offshore area of Tianjin have gone viral online, raising concerns among residents that toxic chemicals from last week's blasts have contaminated the sea, state-run China Daily reported today.

Tian Weiyong, director of the environmental emergency centre, said 16 water quality monitoring stations within the core zone of the blasts have detected sodium cyanide, of which eight have seen concentration exceeding national standards.

"Among the eight stations with excessive sodium cyanide, the largest concentration has been 356 times of the national standards," he was quoted by the daily as saying.

However, a fresh analysis of water from the Haihe River, several kilometres away from the blast site here, this evening showed no trace of toxic levels of cyanide.

According to a report in state-run Xinhua news agency, officials dismissed reports of contamination saying it was not uncommon to find dead fish in the river during summer.

Deng Xiaowen, head of the city's environment monitoring centre, said an investigation would be launched as to find the reason behind the death of the fish.

Two powerful explosions last Wednesday ripped through a warehouse where hundreds of tonnes of toxic chemicals were stored, including roughly 700 tonnes of sodium cyanide.

So far, 114 people have died while hundreds were in hospital and 69 were missing. It is not known what caused the fire in the warehouse that was followed by massive explosions.

President Xi Jinping and other top leaders of Communist Party of China (CPC) have issued a call for hard work and professionalism in response to the Tianjin explosions after hearing a report on rescue and follow-up work today.

Xi presided over a meeting of the most senior members of the CPC Central Committee's Political Bureau convened to hear a report by a team set up by the State Council, China's cabinet, to investigate the blasts.

In a statement after the meeting, the leaders asked for a thorough investigation into the cause of the blasts.

"The incident has caused heavy casualties and property loss. It was a profound lesson paid with blood," it said.

Also, environmental officials pledged comprehensive measures to control and treat leaked toxic chemicals from the Tianjin explosions.

Authorities will speed up treatment of contaminated water in the exclusion zone set up round the blast site and will discharge the water only after it is safe, Tian said.

Cofferdams have been built to block cyanide-tainted water in the exclusion zone. Authorities have also closed sewage outlets to the sea and used cement to block all drain outlets at the site to avoid pollution of water.

Contamination within the exclusion zone is much more serious than immediately outside of it, Tian said. 

From Zee News

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