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Thousands of fish killed by pollution from Chinese plant

HONG KONG — Thousands of dead fish floating along a 19-mile stretch of a river in Hubei province in Central China were killed by pollutants emitted by a local chemical plant, environmental officials said Wednesday.

Officials said tests from the Fu River upstream from Wuhan revealed that high levels of ammonia were caused by pollution from a plant owned by the Hubei Shuanghuan Science and Technology Co.

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Tests conducted by environmental officials revealed ammonia concentrations downstream from the plant were as high as 196 milligrams per liter. The World Health Organization notes that naturally occurring ammonia concentrations in surface water are about 12 milligrams per liter, while the drinking water guide is about 0.02 milligrams.

Calls to the company were not answered. Provincial officials ordered the plant to stop production while the leak is investigated.

The plant produces sodium carbonate, used in making glass, and ammonium chloride for fertilizer, according to local media reports. It has been cited for environmental violations four times since 2008, an environmental group said.

Environmental officials said the river is not used as a source of drinking water.

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