LIUZHOU City government has started to monitor the quality of its drinking water as water tainted by a mining firm at the upper reaches is floating closer towards the water source of the city.

Cadmium pollutants were detected in the Liujiang River near Liuzhou City of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region yesterday afternoon, the city's environmental protection bureau said. Liuzhou City has a population of 3.7 million.

But test results published every two hours indicated that the pollution was not severe and no apparent harm had been done to the river's upper reaches, the city's major drinking water source, said Gan Jinglin, Liuzhou's environmental chief.

"The water is still up to national standards and is safe for drinking," said Gan.

But local authorities have warned residents not to fetch water from the polluted sections of the river.

The government has begun looking for alternative water sources, fearing the tainted belt may spread further.

Meanwhile, the city has opened sluices at four upstream hydrological stations, hoping to dilute the pollutants.

The local market watchdog has moved to ensure that prices for bottled water remain stable and supplies are sufficient in case the pollution prompts panic buying.

Guangxi Jinhe Mining Co. Ltd. has been held responsible for discharging waste and therefore polluting the Longjiang River, a tributary upstream of the Liujiang River in Hechi on January 15.

In Hechi, the pollution killed many fish and prompted panic buying of bottled water over the last week. Local fire authorities had put hundreds of tonnes neutralizers, made from dissolved aluminum chloride, into the Longjiang River to dissolve the contamination.

The cadmium level has been declining in the Longjiang River since yesterday, the local government said.

Cadmium, a chemical that is mostly found in industrial effluents, is carcinogenic.

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