China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Huge loan to help Harbin battle toxic spill

HARBIN, Dec. 6 (Xinhuanet) -- The State Development Bank of China has earmarked a huge amount loan to help Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, deal with water pollution,the provincial information center said Tuesday.

The first 150 million yuan (nearly 19 million US dollars) of the emergency loan is in place and the 490 million yuan (over 61 million US dollars) short-term loan is expected to come in a week,according to the center.

The loan will be used in rebuilding water sources and improving water processing in urban and rural areas along the recently polluted Songhua River.

The pollution was caused by the blast of an upriver chemical plant in Jilin Province last month, which led to the leakage of 100 tons of benzene-like compounds into the Songhua River.

Harbin, with Songhua as its main water source, was forced to shut down its tap water supplies for four days. Currently, the water supply has resumed and the water quality has reached the national standard.

The pollution slick is still moving downward slowly, threatening other riverine populations that depend on the Songhua for drinking water.

Local governments along the river route have launched emergency measures to ensure a safe water supply and banned use of the toxicwater.

China's cabinet has approved the resignation of Xie Zhenhua, director of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) over the toxic spill.

Yu Li, general manager of Jilin PetroChemical Co., owned by China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), was also sacked for the blast of the company's chemical plant on November 13, which entailed huge economic loses.

Jilin Province has so far injected over 70 million yuan (nearly9 million US dollars) in treating the polluted Songhua River, according to the provincial government.

The pollution-control campaign has involved more than 40,000 people and some 9,000 vehicles.

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