Feb. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Chinese police detained eight executives from two companies over a leak of cadmium into the Longjiang river, Xinhua News Agency said, citing He Xinxing, the mayor of Hechi city.
He identified Jinhe Mining Co. and Jinchengjiang Hongquan Lithopone Material Co. as the two most-likely sources of the discharges, the official news service reported yesterday. Police have detained three managers from Lithopone and five from Jinhe Mining, and are pursuing four other executives.
No one at Jinhe Mining answered the phone outside of normal business hours today and the search engines of Baidu Inc. and Google Inc. returned no contact details or information on Lithopone beyond the Xinhua article. Calls to the directory information number for Hechi didn’t go through.
The contamination, first detected on Jan. 15, threatened the water supply of Liuzhou, a city of 1.5 million, prompting panic-buying of bottled water. Cadmium levels are declining and tap water produced at the four treatment plants that serve the city meets national standards, Xinhua said.
Cadmium, used in batteries and paint pigments, may cause kidney dysfunction and cancer, according to the U.S. Labor Department. The metal will have a lasting environmental impact on fish and soil when it sinks to the riverbed, China National Radio reported earlier, citing Li Li, a researcher at Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences.
Lead poisoning from battery makers, fluoride leaks from solar-panel plants and acid spills from mines have sparked outrage in China as three decades of growth transformed the nation into the world’s second-biggest economy and its largest polluter.
The government has examined 145 heavy-metal-using companies along the Longjiang, shutting or suspending operations at 11 of them, Mayor He said yesterday, according to Xinhua. The local environmental regulator also ordered the closing of more than 90 dump sites for minerals or tailings by Feb. 5.
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