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Heavy-metal plants in Hechi told to move

8 February 2012
All heavy-metal smelting plants in Hechi, in the northwest of Guangxi province, are to be relocated by 2015 as part of a government response to a cadmium spill in the Longjiang River that was first detected on 15 January.

Liao Jincheng, director of the city’s Development and Reform Commission, said all the companies should be moved from Hechi to an industrial park outside the city, and those that refused to move would be closed this year. Heavy-metal-related businesses account for 12 per cent of Hechi’s economy, according to the report.

The authorities have blamed two plants for the incident. One produces a dye product called lithopone without a licence and the other is a metallurgical chemical plant. It is claimed that they illegally discharged highly contaminated sewage.

The toxic slick has since spread to the downstream sections of the Liujiang, a tributary of the Pearl River, and threatened water supplies in Liuzhou, the second-largest city in Guangxi.

The army has been deployed to dump bags of chemical neutraliser into treatment tanks at a hydropower station near Liuzhou. By 4 February, the cadmium concentration at the station had dropped to a controllable level, and tap water reportedly had been brought within safe drinking levels, Xinhua reported.

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