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Major River Pollution Confirmed In NE China

File photo of a sunset over the Songhua river.

Beijing (XNA) Nov 24, 2005
China's State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) said here on Wednesday that the Songhua River in northeast China suffered a major water pollution incident owing to the explosion of a petrochemical plant at the upper reaches.

"After the explosion at the Jilin Petrochemical Company under China National Petroleum Corporation, our observation showed pollutants containing benzene had flown into the Songhua River and caused water pollution," said an official with SEPA.

Benzene is a substance harmful to human health.

The official said upon receiving the report, the administration immediately sent experts to Heilongjiang Province to assist local pollution-control efforts. Quality of the river water is under close observation for 24 hours every day.

The Jilin and Heilongjiang provincial governments have activated their contingency programs for environmental incidents, and have taken measures to ensure the safety of potable water, said the official.

He said Jilin had quickly blocked entry of the pollutants into the river and discharged water from a reservoir to dilute pollutants in the river. It also organized environmental, water conservancy and chemical experts to discuss pollution control plans, and beefed up monitoring work.

The finance department of the Heilongjiang provincial government has allocated 10 million yuan (approximately 1.23 million US dollars) specially for handling the pollution incident, said the official.

According to the official, observation data shows the degree of river water pollution has been declining.

He said environmental departments started to monitor water quality of the 1,897-km-long Songhua River on Nov. 13, the day the explosion occurred. The river was found polluted around the pollutant discharge outlet of the company soon afterwards.

The swath of polluted water, which stretches about 80 kilometers long, reached Zhaoyuan on the border of Heilongjiang and Jilin at 4:00 p.m. on Nov. 20, with the level of nitrobenzene in the water exceeding the standard by 29.1 times at the highest.

The polluted swatch continued to move downstream after haunting Zhaoyuan for around 40 hours. It is expected to reach the potable water sourcing area of Harbin City, capital of Heilongjiang, Wednesday evening and pass Harbin on the afternoon of Friday.

"Several major tributaries join the Songhua River on the downstream of Harbin. It will help to lessen the degree of pollution," said the official.

He pledged the administration will keep the media informed of the latest developments.

Source: Xinhua News Agency

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70% Of Rivers, Lakes Polluted In China
Nanchang (XNA) Nov 24, 2005
China has 70 percent of its rivers contaminated and 75 percent over-enriched, according to information from a symposium in east China's Jiangxi Province Wednesday.

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