The river you see here has been used by the residents of this part of Wenzhou, China daily for doing the wash. However, on the morning of 9 August they awoke to a puzzling sight. 

The river had been dyed a milky white color overnight.

People along the river were understandably concerned as the whitened water flowed 2km downstream carrying with it a disturbingly bad smell. Most had suspected that some hazardous pollutant had been dumped into their local water source.

This was partly correct as authorities had discovered that the white dye was a result of latex spilled from a nearby trading company.  It had been storing the natural latex, intended for use in rubber production, in a tank which had been damaged. As a result 100-200kg of latex leaked into the river.

Although some latex is artificially made, natural latex is a milky substance secreted by most plants to repair damaged skin particularly caused by insects. As an added defense mechanism latex is said to have a disgusting smell and taste to repel herbivores.

Despite this the authorities have determined this spill to be non-toxic and not a threat to the public (the wildlife is another matter). On the other hand the declared that this spill is still clearly pollution and the company will be punished “accordingly.”

Source: Livedoor – Karapia (Japanese)

Chinese news report. (Chinese)