Chinese plant spews toxins into air, water

Penicillin production is causing a stink in Harbin, capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang province. Antibiotics-producer Harbin Pharmaceutical Group is accused of violating regulations intended to limit the discharge of pollutants at its General Pharmaceutical Factory.

State broadcaster CCTV reports that the odor was traced to a part of the plant used for fermentation and drying of penicillin. In addition, hydrogen sulfide is being emitted into the air during wastewater treatment.

Air testing detected hydrogen sulfide levels 1,550 times higher than regulatory limits and ammonia gas about 20 times higher, according to Asia One. Some city residents say they have contracted tracheitis, an infection of the windpipe, because of the pollution.

The pollution problem stretches back to at least 2007, when officials began receiving complaints about the plant.

CCTV also found that the factory discharges wastewater containing twice the limit of a nitrogen compound into a nearby river. A factory worker interviewed in the report said that part of the wastewater treatment plant had been offline for more than a month for maintenance.

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