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Officials confirm oil leak behind water contamination in Lanzhou


04-14-2014 06:06 BJT

Excessive levels of benzene in tap water has affected 2.4 million people in the city of Lanzhou, three of the four affected areas have resumed water supplies and have cancelled emergency measures in response to the incident.

"12 ditches around the contaminated channel have been dug after an oil leak was found in these ditches. The initial investigation has confirmed that the contamination was caused by nearby petrochemical factories.” Lanzhou Deputy mayor Yan Zhijian said.

Local authorities have announced that police have seized the suspected factory and are carrying out an investigation.

Meanwhile, officials added that the oil leak came from a pipeline operated by the Lanzhou Petro Chemical Company, a subsidiary of the China National Petroleum Corporation.

This is the contaminated area. The channel that connects No.1 and No.2 plants of Veolia Water is just under the ground here. The oil company is just about 100 meters away from the channel. Some workers from the oil company have digged some ditches for water tests. As you can see, the water in this ditch is black and has very strong smell of oil.

As of Sunday, most affected districts have resumed water supplies and have cancelled their emergency response. Only one district, the Xigu District, still has unsafe levels of benzene in its tap water. Many citizens are complaining that the cutoff has affected their daily lives.

"We’re so anxious. It has brought much inconvenience to our life. We hope water supplies can be resumed as soon as possible.” A resident in Xigu District.

The local government is still distributing free water to residents in Xigu District. Water plants are also still undergoing a deep clean. Filter systems have been repeatedly washed to flush out the pollutants.

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