China cuts off water along poisoned river
Updated: 2005-11-29 07:31
China cut off water supplies to more communities along a poisoned river in
its northeast Monday as it celebrated the return of running water to the city of
water containers from a tanker truck in a street in Harbin, in northeast
China's Heilongjiang province Monday Nov. 28, 2005.
The Songhua River was contaminated by benzene after a factory explosion
in the city of Jilin. Beijing has offered no estimates on how many people rely
on the river for drinking water.
The Chinese government was forced to shut off running water to 3.8 million
residents of Harbin for five days. It restored service Sunday but warned that
the water was not safe to drink.
On Monday, 10,000 people downstream in Yilan County were without water
service, China Central Television reported.
The Nov. 13 explosion killed five people, forced 10,000 to flee their homes
and spewed about 100 tons of benzene into the river. Benzene is an industrial
chemical known to pose a leukemia risk at high concentrations.
In Harbin, the taps were on again but officials warned that the water wasn't
safe to drink after lying in underground pipes for five days. They said radio
and television bulletins would announce when the supply was clean enough first
to bathe in and later to drink. The government did not say when that was
expected to happen.
"It's back, but I don't know what I can use it for yet," said Guan Hongya, a
manager for a textile company in Harbin. "We can use it to flush the toilet, but
otherwise it might be no good."
The Songhua River flows into the larger Heilong River, which is called the
Amur in Russia.