10 Tanker Loads of Toxin Dumped into China River

Update: (11-25-05 AM) China announces that 100 tons of chemical benzene toxin was dumped into the Songhua River after the chemical explosion!

About 100 tonnes of lethal substances entered the Songhua as a result of the blast in Jilin, and the leak is now passing through the city of Harbin.

The company behind the blast has apologised for the accident.

Harbin’s 3.8m residents are undergoing their third day without water.

An 80-km (50-mile) contaminated stretch of water reached Harbin at about 0300 local time on Thursday and was expected to take 40 hours to pass.

Levels of the chemical benzene are ten times higher than considered safe.
Another reports that inhabitants were still fishing, despite the threat to their health.

Officials are hoping the poisonous chemicals will dissipate as they flow down the river towards Russia.

The toxic leak is now expected to reach the Russian border in about two weeks.

China apologized to Russia but one border town is not pleased with the communications.


Harbin in the Heilongjiang province shares a 1,865-mile border with Russia.

The Chinese city of Harbin is coming clean with it’s citizens after several days:

The water crisis in Harbin involves a cluster of difficult issues for China – poor governance, industrial accidents and, perhaps most crucially, official determination to control information.

On Monday, the Harbin government simply announced that water was being cut off so they could check the city’s supply system.

They denied local reports that the cause was industrial poisoning, saying that was “just a rumour”.

The following day, they were forced to change their story and admit fear of contamination from the Jilin plant was the real reason.

Some of the pressure for that reversal came from a cluster of angry criticisms posted on Chinese internet sites – an expression of frustration by local people who wanted more answers or simply did not believe the official line.

To some, the Harbin crisis is a classic example of a struggle for information across China, especially on environmental issues.

Some in the western news services are surprised with the Communist Government’s secrecy:

Critics say there is still an unhealthy preoccupation about controlling information, rooted in the underlying belief that tight control of information is essential for social stability and the preservation of the current one-party system.

Meanwhile, the people of Harbin still have a lot of unanswered questions.

The 48 mile long slick rushed down a river to contaminate the water of 4 million citizens:

An 80-kilometer-long (48-mile) slick of heavily-contaminated water surged down a river into one of China’s biggest cities, leaving four million people without public water services.

The slick of the carcinogen benzene hit the outskirts of Harbin, capital of China’s northeastern Heilongjiang province, in the early hours of Thursday, the local government said.

The contaminated water came after an explosion at a PetroChina factory in neighboring Jilin province, some 380 kilometers up river from Harbin.

The government only acknowledged the environmental disaster on Wednesday, following days of rumor mongering that led to panic buying and hoarding of water and food supplies in Harbin.

The government on Thursday was urging the city’s residents to remain calm.

“We must find solutions for the people’s basic need for water… the supply of water is directly linked to the basic health interests of everyone,” Heilongjiang’s top leader, Song Fatang, said in a statement.

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