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Five people have been arrested for illegally dumping hexavalent chromium in China’s southwest Yunnan Province.
While the dumping was done several months ago, local authorities confirmed it two weeks ago—that was after netizens expressed their concerns online.
The toxic chromium waste had polluted the water sources for tens of millions of local residents.
On Sunday, local authorities said Luliang Chemical Industry Company was responsible for dumping about 6,000 tons of chromium waste near the Chachong Reservoir and on the hills of Qilin District in Qujing City from April to June this year.
The five suspects include the deputy general manager and an employee of Luliang Chemical Industry Company, general manager of Sanli Fuel Company in Guizhou Province, and two carriers.
[Chen Jun, Qujing City Deputy Mayor]:
"The two carriers Wu Xinghua and Liu Xingshui have dumped nearly 6,000 tons of chromium-contaminated waste on the hills of Sanbao County and Yuezhou County of Qilin District in Qujing, which caused the water pollution in this area.”
According to local authorities, three other suspects—Luliang Chemical Industry Company general manager and two employees from a coal company—were released on bail pending trial.
Local authorities say the decontamination treatment of more than 160-thousand tons of toxic chromium waste along the Nanpan River will take up until the end of 2012 to complete.
Hexavalent chromium, or chromium 6, pollutes air and water sources and is a potent cancer-causing substance. Exposure to the chemical causes irritation and damage to the eyes, nose, throat, skin, and could cause lung cancer.