China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Pollution levels along Amur start falling

19/12/2005 10:02

VLADIVOSTOK, December 19 (RIA Novosti, Veronika Perminova) - Tests taken in the Amur River in Russia's Far East have shown that the level of potentially lethal benzene in the water after an industrial accident in China is falling steadily, a local official said Monday.

The spokesman for the local branch of the Emergency Situations Ministry said: "The maximum concentration of benzene near the village of Nizhneyeleninskoye [the Jewish Autonomous Region] was .209 milligrams per liter, which is 1.05 of the maximum allowable concentration according to Russian standards."

Environmental officials in the area are monitoring closely the toxic slick in the Amur, which now stretches for 190 kilometers (about 120 miles), after it entered the Russian river on December 15. The slick originally formed in the Songhua River, an Amur tributary in China, in the wake of an explosion at a petrochemicals plant on November 13, which dumped about 100 metric tons of benzene and other chemicals into the water.

The spill is expected to reach the city of Khabarovsk, home to about 600,000 Russians, on December 21. Although many residents have been stockpiling supplies of water, Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu has said that there are no plans to cut off water supplies, a measure the Chinese authorities resorted to in the city of Harbin for five days.

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