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China cuts off water supply after chemical tumbled into river

Authorities in China`s north-eastern city of Jilin on Thursday cut off water supply after 3000 containers with explosive chemicals were swept away by floods and tumbled into the Songhuajiang river.



Beijing: Authorities in China`s
north-eastern city of Jilin on Thursday cut off water supply after
3000 containers with explosive chemicals were swept away by
floods and tumbled into the Songhuajiang river, the main
source of water for the 4.3 million local population.

Confusion prevailed in Jilin when the water supply was
unexpectedly cut off, triggering rumours that drinking water
has been contaminated by the chemical containers washed away
by floods.
In all about 7000 barrels from the Xinyaqiang chemical
plant with more than 160,000 kg of explosive chemical fluid
was seen floating on the swollen river which created panic
among the residents, the official China Daily reported.

"I saw many big blue plastic barrels floating on the
river, but I didn`t expect that they contained chemical
material. The surface of the river was much higher than before
and, besides the big barrels, there were branches, rubbish and
even two pigs struggling," said He Yumei, a nurse at Jilin
Central Hospital.

It is not known yet whether officials planned to cut
off water in the towns and villages downstream of the river
which also flows into Russia.

Each barrel contains 170 kilogrammes of chemicals,
officials said at a press conference. Another 4,000 empty
barrels also entered the Songhuajiang River.

But no chemicals had been detected in the river`s
water, Ministry of Environmental Protection spokesman Tao
Detian said.
The barrels entered the Wende River and then flowed
into the Songhuajiang River after floods hit the storage
facilities of two chemical factories -- Jilin Xinyaqiang
Biochem Co Ltd and Jilin Zhongxin Group.

Of the 3,000 chemical-filled barrels, about 2,500
barrels contain trimethyl chloro silicane -- a colorless
flammable liquid with a pungent odor -- while 500 contain
hexamethyl disilazane -- a colorless liquid with a pungent
odor. Workers are collecting the barrels at eight points on
the river.

About 400 have been recovered so far. Water quality is
being monitored at seven stations. The 1,900-km long
Songhuajiang River is the largest tributary river for
Heilongjiang River which lies between China and Russia.

A chemical spill contaminated the Songhuajiang River
in November 2005 after an explosion at a petrochemical plant.

Water supplies for 3.8 million in the city of Harbin,
capital of Heilongjiang Province, were cut for five days after
the accident.

PTI

From Zee News

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