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Chemical Plant Responsible for River Pollution Shut Down

A chemical plant in east China's Anhui Province has been shut down after it discharged a toxic chemical into a river and sickened 61 villagers on Tuesday, the local government said.

By Friday, two of the villagers were still in hospital with serious skin inflammations, said a spokesman with the government of Qimen County in Huangshan, a city named after the Yellow Mountain, a major tourist attraction in Anhui Province.

Test results from the provincial environmental protection agency showed the county's Jindong River had been contaminated by dimethylamine, or DMA, a toxic chemical used in rocket fuel and pesticides.

Boda Chemical Co., a private company based in Qimen County, admitted its workers had mistakenly discharged the chemical into the river.

The plant was shut down for a major overhaul on Thursday.

An oil spill and dead fish appeared in a section of the Jindong River as it flowed past Sanlijie Street on Tuesday morning. Hours later, local residents who had washed their clothes in the river or collected the dead fish began to feel an itchy, burning sensation on their skin.

Altogether 61 people sought medical intervention and nine of them were hospitalized. On receiving the report, the county government promised to cover all their medical expenses and warned residents to stay away from the river.

The county's industry and commerce, health and food and drug administrations sent a joint investigation team to tour markets and restaurants, preventing locals from eating the contaminated fish.

(Xinhua News Agency June 22, 2007)

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