City govt fails to clean up pollution

Updated: 2011-10-11 08:04

By Xiang Mingchao and An Baijie (China Daily)

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 City govt fails to clean up pollution

A mechanical digger disposes of toxic chromium residue in Lianggou village of Yima city in Henan province on Monday. Xiang Mingchao / China Daily

YIMA, Henan - More than 200 villagers in Central China's Henan province do not have clean water to drink because their water sources were polluted by chromium residue, a toxic chemical waste which the central government had ordered to be cleared 10 months ago.

A total of 250,000 tons of chromium residue, the byproduct of a local chemical factory, remains unprocessed on a hill in Lianggou village of Yima city. The toxic chemical has leaked into the soil and groundwater due to this year's long rainy season, according to a statement released by Yima city government on Monday.

Chromium residue is a hazardous waste generated during the production of chromium metal and chromium salt. Hexavalent compounds in the residue are the most toxic.

Zhang Zhijian, head of Yima bureau of environmental protection, said hexavalent chromium was found in the local wells, according to a China News Service report on Monday.

Lu Xiaozhao, a Lianggou villager, said on Monday that the local government has to transport clean water to the village from the city because residents have no clean water to drink.

"Even the peanuts and sweet potatoes growing in the polluted land are not safe to eat," Lu said.

Zhao Nuofa, another villager from Lianggou, said that in 2003 the local government built a cement container in the village to seal the chromium waste. He said the container cost nearly 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) but was of poor quality and the chromium residue leaked from it.

Zhao and other residents are building a reservoir to collect poisonous water. "There was too much rain this year and the poisonous water flowed everywhere," he said. "We have to build a temporary reservoir to contain the dirty water."

On Monday, a China Daily reporter found yellow water flowing out of a stock of chromium waste on a hill in Lianggou village, which is 4 km from the urban region. All plants in the area died after the water flowed across the region.

To protect people and the environment from chromium residue, in 2005 the State Council ordered all local governments around the nation to deal with chemical waste within five years.

In 2009 and 2010, the Yima local government allocated 45 million yuan to a local power plant for the disposal of the chromium residue. However, the disposal work halted for some time due to the high price of coal, said the statement released on Monday.

The local government plans to invest a further 50 million yuan within a year and has appointed two other companies to dispose of the waste. All of the chromium residue will be removed by the end of 2012, the statement said.

This is not the first report of chromium residue threatening people's lives.

In late August, a local chemical factory in Qujing of Southwest China's Yunnan province was found to have illegally dumped more than 5,000 metric tons of chromium-contaminated waste near a reservoir and on hills, causing 77 head of livestock to die and threatening tens of millions of people.

Qujing police arrested five suspects in early September for allegedly dumping the waste, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Yang Xiaonan contributed to this story.

China Daily

(China Daily 10/11/2011 page3)