Beijing Water

River contamination from chemical factory explosion reaches major Chinese city

Voice of America
August 30, 2002

‘China’s central government … worked to explain why officials waited 10 days before informing people in Harbin that the blast several kilometers up the Songhua River had dumped dangerous amounts of poisonous, cancer-causing benzene into the waterway.’

(excerpt)

A long stretch of river containing toxins from a chemical plant explosion in China has reached the northeastern city of Harbin. Water in the city of nearly four million people has been turned off for two days as authorities wait for high concentrations of benzene to dilute. China’s central government on Thursday worked to explain why officials waited 10 days before informing people in Harbin that the blast several kilometers up the Songhua River had dumped dangerous amounts of poisonous, cancer-causing benzene into the waterway. The river is Harbin’s main source of water. Vice Environmental Minister Zhang Lijun told reporters in Beijing Thursday the company, a subsidiary of a state-owned petroleum company, should be held responsible for the spill. When asked why officials delayed telling the public, he defended the provincial authorities’ decision to wait.

Categories: Beijing Water

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