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Tap water company denies pollution cover-up

English.news.cn   2014-04-15 12:51:05

LANZHOU, April 15 (Xinhua) -- The tap water supplier at the center of a scandal after excessive levels of a carcinogenic compound were found in its samples has denied a cover-up of the contamination.

Excessive levels of benzene in the water affected more than 2.4 million people in Lanzhou in northwest China's Gansu Province, provincial authorities said on Friday.

The supplier, the Lanzhou Veolia Water Company, collected water samples on April 2 and found abnormal levels of benzene during analysis on Thursday, said Yan Xiaotao, deputy general manager of the Sino-French joint venture.

The excess of benzene was confirmed by further tests at 3 p.m. on Thursday and the company reported the situation to the Lanzhou municipal government, Yan said.

There was no late reporting or cover-up. The government investigation results would have the final say, he told reporters on Monday afternoon.

From 5 p.m. on Thursday to 2 a.m. on Friday, Lanzhou Veolia's tests found benzene levels were 118 to 200 micrograms per liter of tap water in its plants, far higher than the country's limit of 10 micrograms.

The municipal government then warned citizens not to drink tap water from 11 a.m. on Friday to 11 a.m. on Saturday.

China began to adopt compulsory drinking water criteria in July 2012 and the number of indicators increased to 106 from the previous 35. Comprehensive quality tests for tap water are required to be conducted every six months, while daily tests do not include checks for benzene.

According to Yan, Lanzhou Veolia conducted comprehensive tests for all the 106 items for tap water in Lanzhou in accordance with the country's regulations in early March after a strange smell was reported in tap water.

All the indicators met standards and further tests by the Chinese Academy of Sciences found the smell came from decaying grass roots and algae in the source river, he said.

The company is in charge of conducting comprehensive tests for other cities in Gansu and it just incidentally tested tap water in Lanzhou while doing the tests for other places, Yan added.

Tap water supply fully resumed in Lanzhou on Monday.

Lanzhou Veolia is a joint venture established in 2007, with Veolia Water owning 45 percent of its shares and the local government 55 percent. It is the only water supplier for downtown Lanzhou, capital of Gansu.

Benzene is a colorless carcinogenic compound used to manufacture plastics. The chemical is known to damage the human hematopoietic system, which produces blood.

The pollutants were initially believed to have leaked from a pipeline of Lanzhou Petrochemical, a subsidiary of CNPC, China's largest oil company, said investigators.


Xinhua Insight: Lanzhou tap water crisis ends, but concerns remain

LANZHOU, April 14 (Xinhua) -- Safe tap water was once again running for 2.4 million residents in a Chinese city on Monday, after tests showed benzene levels in the water met national standards after a pollution incident.

Samples collected every two hours from 7 a.m. on Sunday to 5 a.m. on Monday indicated benzene levels were between 8.47 and zero micrograms per liter of water in Xigu district of Lanzhou City. China's national limit for benzene in tap water is 10 micrograms per liter.  Full story

Editor: Liu Dan
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