April 29, 2019 / 5:12 AM / 5 months ago

China to clean polluted water from chemical plant blast by end-May: ministry

BEIJING (Reuters) - All contaminated water from a deadly explosion at the Xiangshui chemical plant in eastern China last month should be cleaned up by the end of May, the environment ministry said on Monday.

The blast on March 21 killed 78 people, caused severe damage to nearby residential buildings and forced authorities to seal off a river to protect local drinking water.

“We have dealt with about 199,000 cubic meters of polluted water at the explosion site by April 26, and there was 99,000 cubic meters more of polluted water there to be dealt with,” Ministry of Ecology and Environment spokesman Liu Youbin told a briefing.

The polluted water includes waste water from the explosion and contaminated water in rivers near the chemical park, Liu said.

Public anger over safety standards has grown in China over industrial accidents, ranging from mining disasters to factory fires, that have marred three decades of swift economic growth.

The Jiangsu environmental protection bureau found various degrees of contamination in local water samples, with some volatile organic chemical measurements far exceeding surface water standards, by 15 times in one case.

The clean-up effort has focused on ensuring contaminated water did not leak into the public water system.

Reporting by Hallie Gu; Writing by Shivani Singh; editing by Richard Pullin

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