China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Monday, September 11, 2006

Official: China's Songhua River suffering near-daily chemical spill


BEIJING China's Songhua River, the site of a massive chemical spill last year that halted water supplies to tens of millions of people, has been hit by more than 130 water pollution accidents in the past 11 months, state media said Monday.

Every few days, a chemical accident pollutes the Songhua, Pan Yue, deputy director of the State Environmental Protection Administration, was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency.

Pan blamed "irrational distribution of industrial enterprises" for the frequent accidents, the report said. No additional details were given about the scale or types of accidents.

Chinese leaders say the country faces a critical water shortage, in part because of chronic pollution and chemical accidents. Most of China's canals, rivers and lakes are severely tainted by agricultural and household pollution.

Last month, China said it will spend 1 trillion yuan (US$125 billion; €100 billion) to improve water treatment and recycling by 2010 to fight the mounting threat of urban water pollution.

The Xinhua report cited Pan as saying that China has over 20,000 chemical factories located along major rivers, including 10,000 along the Yangtze River and 4,000 along the Yellow River. It did not say how many were on the Songhua River.

Last November, a chemical plant blast spilled tons of benzene and other toxic material into the Songhua, halting water supplies to tens of millions in China and Russia. Local authorities were accused of reacting too slowly and delaying public disclosure of the spill.

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