Thousands lose water as oil fills Chinese reservoir

A crash involving an over-loaded lorry carrying in excess of 30 tons of industrial oil has left water from a vital reservoir in northern China undrinkable.

The truck, loaded with industrial wash oil, overturned on a road in Shanxi Province, spilling its 33 ton load into a roadside river.

The brown oil was washed into the Yangjiapo Reservoir, the main source of drinking water for the towns of Dazhai and Sandu in Xiyang county.

According to the provincial environment bureau, some two million cubic metres of water have been contaminated by the spill and the mains pipe supplying an estimated 28,000 people has been cut off as a safety precaution.

The clean-up operation has now begun, with the local authorities deploying pumps, tons of activated carbon and other materials which could help contain and absorb the spill.

Drinking water has been trucked in to those cut off from the mains and the authorities have had some success finding other sources for the residents affected by the spill.

They are also trying to connect the tap water pipes to a large well in the nearby village of Mahui to establish a temporary supply.

Officials from the State Environmental Protection Administration and the State Environment Monitoring Station have arrived at the site to oversee the treatment of the polluted water.

Investigations show the overloaded truck, which had a capacity of 31.5 tons, overturned when it suffered brake failure.

Sam Bond

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