According to police in Haining City, the group of 23 were operating a company that illegally disposed of sludge from what the Chinese news agency calls, local leather printing and dyeing firms in Haining and the neighbouring Tongxiang City since May 2012.

The company, which rented docks on the river in Tongxiang, poured about 300,000 tonnes of sludge containing a large amounts of heavy metals into the Grand Canal, a waterway running from Beijing to Hangzhou in Zhejiang, and Poyang lake in Jiangxi Province.

Police in Haining started the investigation in June when the water quality in some local rivers was found to be deteriorating. They suspected the pollution was caused in the upper reaches in Tongxiang.

The suspects were caught in the provinces of Jiangxi, Zhejiang and Jiangsu and the city of Shanghai. Among them, 18 have been detained.

In addition, six boats used to transport the sludge were seized by police. The case is still under further investigation.

Source: Xinhuanet