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China Punishes 13 Officials For Contaminating River

One official received jail time and 12 others were either sacked or given administrative punishments after a chemical company heavily polluted a river with arsenic.

BEIJING (AP) -- Thirteen officials in central China have been punished after a chemical company contaminated a river with arsenic, state media reported Sunday.

A local court sentenced Liu Gaili, a former environmental protection bureau official, to two years in jail, the official Xinhua News Agency cited the Shangqiu city government in Henan province as saying.

The report said 12 other officials were either sacked or given administrative punishments.

The officials were punished after a section of the Dasha river was found contaminated by arsenic in August last year. Water quality tests showed the concentration of arsenic was nearly 900 times greater than what was deemed safe.

Investigations showed the Chengcheng Chemical Co. Ltd., a sulfuric acid plant, had been illegally dumping toxic waste water into the river since late July, contaminating 1,000 tons of water, Xinhua said.

Selected sluices were closed and dams built to prevent the contaminated water from spreading to neighboring Anhui province, while experts from the Chinese Academy of Sciences poured chemical agents into the river to purify it.

Tests between November and March showed the water was safe and no residents or livestock had been poisoned, Xinhua said.

China's double-digit economic growth has been accompanied by a surge in toxic industries. The country has 16 of the world's 20 most heavily polluted cities.

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