Xinxiang Environmental Authorities Search for Source of "Red River" Pollution

6 May 2013 by OOSKAnews Correspondent
China, XINXIANG

Environmental authorities in Xinniang City in China’s Henan province are investigating the cause of pollution in the West Meng Jiangnu River, after local residents and bloggers last week reported that the river’s water had turned red.

The matter garnered widespread attention after a jogger who had run past the river on May 1 posted a photo of the discolored water online.

In response, Zhang Yi Fang, team leader of the environmental monitoring department at Xinxiang’s environmental protection agency started an onsite investigation the morning of May 2.

The agency has also offered a reward of $1,600 USD for anyone who is able to provide information on the source of the problem.

An inflatable rubber dam that retains domestic sewage discharges is located on the river downstream from the red-colored stretch. According to villagers in the surrounding area, the slow-flowing river is normally black in color and smelly.

A 20-member law enforcement team formed to carry out a detailed investigation along the river discovered that the red discoloration stretches for about 3 kilometers.

Water samples showed that the river’s water had been polluted by liquid and solid waste products from pharmaceutical and pesticide manufacturing.

However, the team was unable to locate an inlet from which pollutants could flow into the river along that stretch, and Zhang noted that there are no chemical manufacturers or printing and dyeing companies located in that area.

The environmental department suspects that chemical companies in other parts of the prefecture-level city are not treating their wastewater to acceptable standards and are transporting the effluent via tanker trucks and illegally dumping it into the river at night.

Gao Jian Lei, a professor of environment and water conservancy at Henan province’s Zhengzhou University, noted that “once a water source is polluted, the cost of controlling it is very high.”

He called for proactive measures to enhance regulation of industrial and domestic wastewater to avoid the “regulating after the fact” approach that he says is prevalent in developed countries.