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News about chemical leakage delayed for five days

This sign at the Shanxi Tianji Coal Chemical Industry Group reads "dangerous area" and shows the passing direction for vehicles transporting aniline and other dangerous chemicals. Photo: Xinhua

The leaking point in the hose. Photo: Xinhua

After half an hour, the color of tap water in a resident's home in Handan was still yellow. Photo: 牛巍NIUNIU/Sina Weibo

It is estimated that 8.7 tons of a total 38.7 ton aniline leaked from Shanxi Tianji Coal Chemical Industry Group, located in Changzhi city, North China's Shanxi province, was discharged into Zhuozhang river on December 31 2012, under the state run China National Radio reported Sunday.

The river pollution caused a sudden water shortage in most residential areas in Handan city, Hebei province, located at the downstream of the Zhuozhang river, at 5 pm on January 5, according to Yanzhao Metroplis, a provincial daily.

As the water quality test report of the city has not yet been released, the local government reminded people not to drink water sourced from the contaminated river.

Liu Dasha, deputy director of the Shanxi Provincial Environmental Protection Bureau, said a preliminary investigation shows that the accident was caused by a leak in an aniline tank, but he did not say anything about the reason why the accident was reported to the authorities after a period of five days in an interview with a news program of Voice of China.

According to related provisions adopted in Shanxi province in March 2012, local authorities should report major emergencies and events, the severity of which they are temporarily unable to ascertain, to the provincial government within two hours.

Liu said the government launched an emergency plan on WHEN??. Some of the leaked aniline was blocked by building up a temporary dam and drawing some of the aniline into a low-lying land near the leakage site.

Patrol staff of Shanxi Tianji Coal Chemical Industry Group discovered the leakage during a routine inspection at 7:40 am on December 31, 2012. A hose carrying the aniline to the finished tank burst and the leaked aniline was discharged into the river along the storm water. However, the time of the burst remained unclear, according to the company.

A preliminary verification showed that the leakage amount was about 38.7 tons when it was discovered, said The company shut down the inlet and outlet of the aniline pipeline. A dry reservoir downstream was also closed and used to hold about 30 tons of the leaked aniline. But 8.7 tons of aniline was discharged into the river.

The route of the Zhuozhang river to Hebei province covers Licheng city in Shanxi and Hebei’s Shexian county, Wu'an city, and Yuecheng reservoir, one of the two sources of drinking water for Handan city. This water contamination would also affect Hebei’s Cixian county and Anyang city, Henan province.

Shanxi authorities are using activated carbon to adsorb the pollutant in the river. Currently, it is unsafe for people and animals to drink the river water along a stretch of 80 km.

Aniline is a widely used chemical raw material which can be used as a stain and in the production of pesticides. It is harmful to the environment and can cause hemolytic anemia and liver and kidney damage if it is breathed in or touched.

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