By Tom Bannister
Residents of a Hebei city have been hurrying to buy bottled water over the weekend after their water supply was stopped on Saturday. Government officials told them yesterday (05/01) that the stoppage was due to chemical contamination, but it has since emerged that the contamination occurred five days before the water was stopped.
Nearly 9 tonnes of the chemical aniline – used as a precursor to manufacture many products such as pesticides – leaked from a plant into the Zhuozhang River in neighbouring Shanxi province.The plant was owned by the Tianji Coal Chemical Industry Group who, when questioned by reporters, said that they had first discovered the leak on the 31st December.
Local government officials say that they had only received the report of the accident on Saturday, so it appears the company is to blame for the five-day delay. Officials also said that other cities along the river such as Anyang have also been alerted and are monitoring the situation. This news will bring little relief to the million residents of Handan who have been drinking potentially contaminated water for five days and are now scrambling to save un-contaminated water whilst their supply is cut off.