Guangzhou: Don’t drink the water

First there was the Harbin chemical spill. And now, Guangzhou’s famously pristine and delicious drinking water is under threat as toxic cadmium dumped by a state-owned factory drifts toward the city.

The southern Chinese metropolis of Guangzhou was ordered to prepare to start emergency plans to ensure safe drinking water supplies as a toxic cadmium slick approached the city of 10 million residents. The local Guangdong provincial government issued the order to Guangzhou and neighbouring Foshan city, the Xinhua news agency said.

The incident follows a chemical spill in a river in northeast China last month that left millions without water for four days, highlighting the seriousness of water pollution in China and raising questions about Beijing’s ability to handle its rapid pace of development.

The latest toxic slick was caused by an excessive discharge of cadmium from a state-owned smelting works in the Beijiang river, a major source of drinking water for cities in the northern part of Guangdong, Xinhua said on Wednesday.

The Beijiang runs into the Pearl river which flows through Guangzhou.

Waste discharges increased the volume of cadmium in the Beijiang at Shaoguan city to nearly 10 times above safety levels, “seriously endangering” the safety of water downstream, Xinhua cited the local government saying.

It did not say when the discharge occurred, but provincial environmental officials were sent to the area Sunday, Xinhua said.

Local governments have set up monitoring posts along the Beijiang river to check water quality, it said.

Relax, you’re in good hands. Still, I’d go for the bottled stuff, at least for the time being.

The Discussion: 3 Comments

What’s really eerie about this is that it lends credence to General Jack D. Ripper (in “Dr Strangelove”):

“Mandrake, did you ever wonder why I only drink bottled water? We must resist the Communist plot to corrupt our precious bodily fluids!”

December 21, 2005 @ 6:03 pm | Comment

Not much word of that going around here, at least I haven’t heard anything.

Not that the ever-so-pragmatic GZers would worry that muchโ€”probably the only city in China where people completely rejected wearing masks during SARS on the grounds that they looked ‘so not cool’.

December 21, 2005 @ 6:12 pm | Comment

“Guangzhou’s famously pristine and delicious drinking water ” ???

i never heard of that ๐Ÿ™‚

anyway, GZ could still take water from Xi Jiang\, which is a different tributary of Pearl River.

December 23, 2005 @ 10:47 pm | Comment

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