BEIJING, Nov. 30 -- China will send equipment by
Friday to test water for benzene to Russian authorities as the contaminated
slick in the Songhua River approaches the international border, Chinese
officials said yesterday.
polluted stretch of water is approaching the Heilong River (called the Amur in
Russia), a border river of the two countries, at a speed of 2 kilometres per
hour. It is expected to reach the Russian city of Khabarovsk in 13 days.
A stretch of potentially lethal
polluted river water headed towards Harbin after an explosion at a
petrochemical plant, November 24 2005.
A seven-person Russian delegation from the Khabarovsk
Environmental Protection Bureau met yesterday with directors of Heilongjiang
Environmental Protection Bureau, the Harbin Water Supply Company and the Harbin
Heat Supply Company in the capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.
Li Ping, a spokesman with the provincial
environmental protection bureau who announced the agreement, also said the
bureau would send experienced personnel to help install the equipment and train
Victor Bardyuk, head of the delegation, said he was
satisfied with the arrangement.
The delegation has been updated twice a day with the
situation of the slick. Benzene is a toxic substance that can affect blood and
bone marrow cells.
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao
said China started to provide details of the river pollution to the Russian
Embassy on November 22 and regular reports on water quality since last Thursday.
He added that China cares about the interest and concern of the Russian people.
Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, at a meeting with
Russian Ambassador Sergei Razov on Saturday, expressed regret over the possible
harm that could be done.
A blast at a chemical plant on November 13 in Jilin
city of Jilin Province on the upper reaches of the Songhua River tainted the
The 80-kilometre slick arrived in Harbin on November
24. It forced a four-day shutdown of the city's water service until Sunday.
At 4 pm yesterday, the front edge of the
contamination was still in Tonghe County, a suburb county of Harbin.
Li said that Heilongjiang Province has now set up
checkpoints at five locations along the river at Mulan, Dalianhe, Jiamusi, Fujin
Khabarovsk, with a population of 600,000, will be the
first Russian city affected, as will three other cities farther downstream.
Bardyuk said there are now no poisonous substances
found in the Heilong River, but the water supply of Khabarovsk could be cut
three hours before the slick arrives.
"It depends on the density and the amount of the
pollutants," he said.
A shutdown of Khabarovsk's water service could last
three days. But if the density of pollutants is greatly reduced, there may be no
need to cut the water supply but only to adopt a more advanced filtration
technique, he said.
The city has accumulated 20 tons of activated carbon
to upgrade its water filtration system and is asking for more, he said.
Zhai Pingyang, deputy director of the Heilongjiang
Environmental Protection Bureau, told China Daily it was still unclear how the
slick would affect the Heilong River as it is still a long way from it.
(Source: China Daily)