BEIJING, Nov. 23 (Xinhuanet) -- 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
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
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.