May 6, 2001
Harbin: An unknown substance found near the water source of Mudanjiang City, the third largest city in Heilongjiang Province, turned out to be a micro-organism that multiplied because of waste from a wine maker, according to local sources. The flaky substance was found blocking the water inlet of the No 4 Water Plant of the city, which shoulders 80 per cent of the whole water supply to the city’s 800,000 urban population. The drastic growth of it was triggered by a large quantity of lees being dumped by the wine plant in the upper reaches of the water source in Hailang River, reported Xinhua News Agency. Emergency measures, such as adding more purifier and chlorine into the water, were adopted to ensure normal water supplies and no poisoning cases were reported. Officials insisted the micro-organism was not harmful. Wang Shuyin, spokesman of the Mudanjiang government, was quoted as saying that a sudden temperature hike recently caused the lees to ferment in the river, which speeded up the growth of the micro-organism. Industrial and domestic wastewater and temperature variation can all trigger the abnormal growth of the micro-organism, said a statement posted on the government’s website. Wang denied that the micro-organism was a chemical pollutant and ruled out the possibility of chemical pollution such as the Songhua River incident last November, which was caused by a chemical plant blast. Some biological characters of the micro-organism still needed research to help the experts find ways to deal with it, said Wang. The wine plant, Linhai Xueyuan Food Ltd, whose major products are wine and alcohol, have been ordered to suspend its operation, reported Xinhua.