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Another chemical spill threatens water supplies in southwest China

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Drinking water supplies for more than 200,000 people are under threat from a 33.6 ton crude phenol spill in eastern Yunnan's Zhesang River (者桑江). The spill occurred when the truck transporting the phenol overturned near the upper reaches of the river on Saturday, according to a Xinhua report.

On Monday, the phenol had flowed into the area of the Baise Dam (百色水坝) in Guangxi Autonomous Region, located on Yunnan's eastern border. The dam area is 15 kilometers from where water is sent to supply more than 200,000 people in the city of Baise.

The local government has been working to contain the spill - which is a benzene derivative used in plastic and pharmaceutical production – by building barricades to contain the spill and treating it with lime and other compounds.

This year has been a bad year for chemical transport in Yunnan. In February, a total of more than 70 tons of sulfuric acid were spilled into Yunnan's rivers and water supply in three separate accidents, prompting heavy criticism from the central government's State Administration of Work Safety.

Related article: Chemical spills in Yunnan highlight problems in China's chemical transport

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