As the Xiangbi River in Yibin City, Sichuan, China, suddenly turned blood-red last week, residents wanted answers about the bizarre spectacle.
Officials stepped in to investigate the phenomenon, according to Newsweek.
The Xiangbi River flows into the Yangtze River, which eventually reaches the large city of Chongqing.
“If it flows into the Yangtze River, the consequences would be unimaginable,” an onlooker had remarked.
Strange ‘blood’ river flowing in China pic.twitter.com/VRhdmg0a6G
— RT (@RT_com) July 6, 2018
While people tend to think the worst, officials confirmed that the case of the “blood river” had a simple explanation.
Workers at the nearby Heshun Packaging Company factory had accidentally spilled paint into the river.
Since the incident, the river has been cleaned and the pollutant removed.
The bigger question now is, will the packaging company be forced to pay a fine for the negligent incident.
The paint was water-based and non-toxic, and residents do not use the river as a source of drinking water.
This isn’t the first time a Chinese river has turned scarlet.
In 2012, the same river mysteriously turned red.
Officials said at the time that the cause may have been sediments flowing through the water, or even an unusually large algal bloom.
In 2011, the Jian River flowing through the city of Luoyang mysteriously turned red. Investigators said it was the red dye used in plastic bags and firework wrappers.
In 2014, a river in Wenzhou city also turned blood-red, but testing suggested it was the result of illegal dumping by one of a number of nearby factories.
In 2017, a blockage near a sewage pipe at a slaughterhouse turned a stretch of a river in Jiangxi Province scarlet, which also happened in 2014.
“Factory wastewater discharge has ‘a major impact’ on river pollution. When not properly treated, it can destroy fragile river ecosystems, contaminate drinking water sources, and can render water too polluted for agricultural and industrial use,” said Greenpeace East Asia toxics campaigner Deng Tingting.
These occurrences are not just seen in China.
In 2016, a river in Siberia turned red. It was blamed on either a chemical leak or a natural dispersal of large amounts of iron.
“Some chemicals present dangers to humans as well as local wildlife. Certain chemicals can accumulate in the same fish that end up on supermarket shelves and on dinner tables, creating health hazards for humans. In addition, pollutants easily spread to downstream rivers and lakes,” Tingting said.