China river spill reaches Russian city

December 22, 2005

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A chemical spill that poisoned drinking
water for millions of Chinese has reached a major city in
Russia’s far east, a news agency said on Thursday, but the
concentration of pollutants was no longer considered dangerous.

“Analysis of the water showed that the benzene content does
not exceed … the maximum allowable concentration,”
RIA-Novosti quoted an Emergencies Ministry official as saying.

“As a result the city authorities have decided not to turn
off the Khabarovsk water supply because of the arrival at the
city of the slick of polluted water.”

Khabarovsk, a city of 580,000, had readied alternative
water supplies while waiting for the slick to wind its way
northeast to Russia’s Amur river, known in China as Heilong.

An explosion at a chemical plant in China’s Jilin province
last month poured some 100 tonnes of cancer-causing benzene
compounds into the Songhua river, poisoning the drinking water.

Russian workers also had temporarily dammed a waterway to
divert the pollution away from a river area where Khabarovsk
gets its water.

China is facing another environmental disaster this week as
the southern province of Guangdong scrambles to protect its
water supplies while a waste spill from a zinc smelter flows
along a major river toward several cities.

Around 70 percent of China’s rivers are contaminated,
raising questions about the cost of its economic boom.

Source: reuters

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