March 5, 2011 By

China Water Contamination Affects 2.4m after Oil Leak

chinaThe severe water contamination in Lanzhou, capital of north western Gansu province, China, has affected over 2.4 million people in the region forcing the citizens to buy bottled water. State media said the city’s environmental protection chief, Yan Zijiang, blamed it on a leak from Lanzhou Petrochemical Co., China’s biggest oil company, a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corporation.

The pipeline is now under repair.  Shops have reportedly run out of bottled water. The tap water contained up to 200 micrograms per litre of the toxic chemical benzene, which is 20 times the national safety limit.  Exposure to benzene, often used in the petrochemical industry, can increase the risk of cancer and other diseases. The leak tainted source water for a plant owned by Veolia Water, a joint Sino-French venture and the sole supplier for urban Lanzhou, reported State news agency Xinhua.

Last year, an oil pipeline ruptured causing explosions in the eastern city of Qingdao, killing 62 people.  In January 2012, toxic cadmium and other waste from factories contaminated water supplies serving millions of people in the south western region of Guangxi.

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