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, capital of 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 at 5 a.m. Friday, 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.
Despite this, six residents in Lanzhou filed lawsuits to local courts on Monday, demanding an apology and compensations from Lanzhou Veolia.
Five of them jointly filed a lawsuit against the company to the Lanzhou Intermediate People's Court. In the indictment, they alleged the company only cut water supply 18 hours after finding the benzene problem.
During this period, polluted tap water flowed into thousands of households and the plaintiffs drank it and their health suffered, they claim.
They alleged the pollution caused panic and seriously disturbed their lives, demanding the defendant compensate them for the money they spent buying bottled water and for their work delays. They also asked for an apology to be printed in newspapers.
The court rejected the petition, saying it was not in line with laws and regulations.