China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Harbin to hold ice-snow festival despite toxic spill

HARBIN, Dec. 14 (Xinhuanet) -- Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, will launch its annual ice and snow festival next month as scheduled after surviving major river pollution, an official said Wednesday.

The water source for ice and snow is safe now, said Shi Zhongxin, mayor of Harbin, promising that activities during the festival starting from Jan. 5, 2006 will be well-organized and entertaining.

Explosions in a chemical plant in upstream Jilin Province last month have caused pollution of the water in the Songhua River. According to the latest environmental monitoring report, the density of nitrobenzene, the major toxic compound in the polluted Songhua River has dropped within the state's safety standard.

Workers have been extracting ice from the Jinshui River, a distributary of Songhua in the outskirts of Harbin, and making ice and snow sculptures for display at the festival.

According to the city tourism bureau, the festival will include skiing games, ice-snow art shows, sports competitions and cultural and tourism programs.

The annual festival, which made its debut in 1985, has become a traditional winter event in the city, attracting tens of thousands of Chinese and foreign tourists.

A large amount of nitrobenzene leaked into the Songhua River after the Nov. 13 chemical plant blasts in Jilin Province, causing a water supply cutoff in Harbin and some other riverain cities for days.

The toxic slick has almost passed the major Chinese cities reliant on the river and officials are evaluating the ecological impact of the pollution.

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