HONG KONG Residents of a town in southern China have been rushing to buy bottled water after excessive levels of carcinogenic cadmium were found in a river source of drinking water, state media said on Thursday in the latest health scare to hit the country.
Pollution of waterways by toxic run-offs from factories and farms is a pressing issue in China, prompting the authorities to call for policy tightening to cut heavy metal pollution, though the problem shows no sign of going away.
Cadmium levels at the Longjiang River in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on Wednesday were three times the official limit, Xinhua news agency said, pointing the finger of blame at a mining company.
Excessive levels of cadmium were detected last Sunday, the news agency said, adding that the authorities had injected 80 tonnes of aluminum chloride, a neutralizing agent, into the river in a bid to eliminate the health risk.
China closed a chemical plant in central Hunan province in 2009 after residents protested over cadmium pollution that killed two people and affected hundreds of others.
Despite Beijing's frequent pledges to reduce pollution, local officials often put economic growth, revenue and job creation ahead of environmental concerns.
(Reporting By Sisi Tang; Editing by Nick Macfie)