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Pollution Threat From China A Far Eastern Chernobyl

A survey by Russian experts of the environment and the health of people living along the Amur had produced disturbing preliminary results, the paper said.
by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) Apr 18, 2006
Russia faces a major environmental threat from factories in neighbouring China, the country's Vremya Novostei newspaper said Monday, dubbing the situation a "far eastern Chernobyl".

In its main article, the newspaper said "the industrial boom in China could turn into a catastrophe for border areas of Russia" and likened the threat to the environmental disaster caused by a 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the west of the Soviet Union.

A major slick on the Amur River that resulted from an explosion at a Chinese chemical factory in November was just one in a series of such accidents to have affected the health of the region, the newspaper said.

"The consequences of chemical pollution in the Amur basin by discharges from Chinese factories and plants will have the most negative effects for the residents of the region for a long time to come," the newspaper said.

A survey by Russian experts of the environment and the health of people living along the Amur had produced disturbing preliminary results, the paper said.

"Liver problems were found in 73 percent of adults tested and in 80 percent of children under 14," the paper said, citing experts. "The number of people suffering from cardio-vascular diseases in riverside villages is significantly higher than those further from the Amur."

"In addition, specialists are very concerned about the significant growth in the number of oncological diseases. In several villages the growth in patients with such serious diagnoses is increasing by 10 percent to 15 percent annually," the paper said.

Although a document had been signed by Chinese and Russian officials on joint monitoring of the river, there had been no further progress on such monitoring, the paper quoted Viktor Bardyuk, the top regional official with Russia's environmental protection department, as saying.

"The only way to achieve a breakthrough in this situation is to get China to exercise complete control over factory discharges and to sign an agreement on an inter-state level on joint use of the waters of the Amur basin," the paper quoted a health official as saying.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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