China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Friday, December 16, 2005

China pledges border checks for river pollution

15 Dec 2005 04:01:27 GMT
Source: Reuters BEIJING, Dec 15 (Reuters) - China will start checks to ensure river water flowing across provincial borders is safe, state media said on Thursday, as a toxic slick caused by an explosion at a chemical plant flowed slowly towards Russia. Last month's spill in northeast China's Songhua River, initially covered up by local officials in Jilin province, later sparked panic in neighbouring Heilongjiang province and led to the shutdown of water supplies to millions of people downstream, including in the provincial capital of Harbin. "Provincial governments in the upper reachers of a river will be responsible for the pollution they produce, and shoulder any compensation claims," the China Daily said. China previously vowed to come down hard on those responsible for the chemical plant blast in Jilin that sent 100 tonnes of cancer-causing benzene compounds pouring into the Songhua, and said it would run checks of environmental standards at factories lining rivers around the country. A new pollution scare struck central China on Wednesday when a chemical tanker trunk fell off a ferry and plunged into a tributary of the Yangtze River, leaking some of the 20 tonnes of basic aqueous alkali it was carrying to flow into the water. It did not specify which alkali. The downstream city of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province and home to around 7 million people, was on low alert for possible contamination, though China's State Environmental Protection Administration said the incident had not caused serious pollution, Xinhua news agency said. Chinese environment officials have said that the density of the benzene pollution in the Songhua has declined sharply and should further dilute before it flows into the Amur river, which forms a natural border between China and Russia and then winds into Russian territory.


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