Liquid Spill Pollutes River

   Date:2011-12-26     Source:xywliuhongli

A chemical spill in Fuzhou put the largest river in Fujian province into a contamination crisis that was brought under control by Thursday.

Chinalco Ruimin Co.,Ltd., a manufacturer of aluminum products in the city's Mawei district, rallied a rescue team by the Minjiang River to clean the water for the fourth straight day. Oil-like contaminants could still be seen near the riverside.

The greasy dirt - an emulsion - is a waste liquid that helped the company to produce its major products, aluminum sheet and strip, and can be used for soda cans or medicine packaging foil.

According to a statement issued by the company, the chemicals unexpectedly leaked from pipes that channel the waste to an underground pool on Monday morning due to a glitch at its recycling facility. The emulsion poured onto the ground and then into the rainwater pipe that is linked to the sewage system. From there, it flowed into the river.

Local environmental administrations said the leakage has polluted 2 square kilometers of the lower reaches of the river with excessive mineral oils.

The emulsion, floating on the water surface like oil spills, is estimated to be more than 200 liters, according to a Wednesday report by the local Southeast Express newspaper.

The report also said residents worried that the chemical leak might poison a drinking water source only 6 miles from the leakage point.

Although no black belt of contamination was visible on the water surface by 2 pm on Thursday, workers were still hustling to clean small oil seepages from the water near the riverbank. Black oil stains were left on the stones along the river's edge, near where a couple of white egrets could occasionally be seen walking.

"We are racing against time for a remedy," said Xie Hanqing, an employee of the company who is in charge of the on-site cleanup.

Xie said the company sealed the source of the pollutant right after the accident occurred and appointed workers to monitor chemical spills by the river around the clock.

Xie's team was made up of more than 20 workers and three boats. The workers threw snow-white oil-absorbing sheets into the water to soak up the floating dirt, and three floating wooden barriers were installed in front of the sewage outlet to block the emulsion from pouring into the sea.

According to Xie, there was no more leakage from the factory, but the ebbing tide kept sweeping away the dirt left on the walls of the sewage pipe, making oil seepages offshore.

Zhu Hui, director of the environmental protection bureau of Mawei district, said the pollution was under control by 5 pm on Wednesday and the river has been substantially cleaned.

He blamed the company for not immediately reporting the accident to the local environmental protection authorities, which received reports from the public the next day.

Zhu said daily tests of the water quality showed that pollutants exceeded standards when the accident happened but gradually eased and will not endanger aquatic animals.

But the crisis has made residents question the credibility of the company, which claimed "zero discharge" of wastewater because of its 20 million yuan ($3 million) investment in a waste treatment facilities.

"I almost shed tears when I saw the river covered by a thick layer of gray and black grease on Tuesday morning," said Zhang Muxing, a 56-year-old resident who works at the Yuanyang Fishing Berth, only 400 meters from the sewage pipe outlet.

Zhang said he has been working at the site for 30 years, and oil spills on the water surface were seen from time to time after the factory went into production in September.

"As a resident, I worried a lot about our health, as the pollution caused by an irresponsible enterprise might put local residents under the threat of toxic drinking water," he said.

2005-2011 All Rights Reserved 京ICP备05069564号-1