Industrial discharge and household wastewater have polluted a northern Chinese river so badly that the water—dark red in some sections—has caused chronic illnesses among villagers, a government publication reported.
Some of the 50,000 villagers living along polluted stretches of the Futuo River in the Hebei region said sweet potatoes and soy beans grown there were tough and would not soften with cooking, the state-run China Environment News reported.
Furthermore, oil pressed from peanuts harvested in the area smells bad, the report said.
China has some of the world's most polluted waterways and cities, after two decades of breakneck industrial growth.
The government has struggled in recent years to balance economic and environmental concerns.
White Foam, Reddish Brown Water
One stretch of the Futuo River, once a place for boating and fishing, was flowing reddish brown, with inches of white foam floating on some parts.
"The river looked like a white boa constrictor slithering into Anping County," the October 30 report said.
Water drawn from a 400-foot (120-meter) well in the county was red and had a strong odor.
Skin, circulatory, and gastrointestinal diseases were common and chronic, the report said.
Last year tests showed the water contained significantly more organic pollutants than Chinese standards allow.
The report blamed wastewater and industrial discharge from paper, dye, leather, and soap factories in five counties upstream for the pollution in Anping.
A woman at the Anping county environmental protection bureau confirmed the report but referred questions to the bureau director, who was out of the office and could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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