A diesel fuel leak threatening China’s second-longest river has been mostly contained, an environmental ministry official told state media Tuesday.
The spill is the latest environmental disaster to affect China’s waterways, considered among the world’s most polluted.
Beginning Dec. 30, an estimated 100 tons of diesel fuel spilled into the Wei River, which feeds into the Yellow River, a water source for millions of Chinese.
China suspended power generation Saturday at a major Yellow River dam, the Sanmenxia, to hold contaminated water behind the dam and keep it from flowing toward major cities that rely on the river for drinking water.
An official with the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Zhang Xun, said the spill had been “basically contained” in the Sanmenxia reservoir, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported late Tuesday.
Zhang said the diesel fuel had not contaminated river water downstream.
Authorities have already told 850,000 people in riverside communities to avoid using the Yellow River for drinking or watering livestock.
In a statement issued late Monday, the Shaanxi provincial government said cleanup measures, including diversion channels, floating dams, and absorbing agents, had so far proven effective in containing the spill.
As of Monday, no oil slick could be seen on the Wei and oil concentration in the river averaged just 0.79 part per million (0.79 milligrams per liter), well within acceptable limits, the statement said.
The Yellow River has seen its water quality deteriorate rapidly in recent years due to rising industrial discharge and dropping water levels due to the diversion of water to major cities downstream, including Luoyang, Kaifeng and Zhengzhou.