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Chemical plants to be checked
By Li Fangchao in Jiamusi and Sun Xiaohua in Beijing (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-12-09 06:05

Chemical plants and other potential sources of pollution along river banks will immediately come under the scanner of environmental authorities.

The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) yesterday issued an emergency notice asking for checks to be conducted on all enterprises which pose a threat to the environment.

The checks will focus on large- and medium-sized enterprises along major rivers and their tributaries, especially chemical plants located in water-source areas or densely population regions.

SEPA also asked local environmental protection bureaus to work out emergency plans and examine chemical plants' waste treatment facilities.

The nationwide checks will last till the end of next month and SEPA will dispatch supervisory groups to such provinces as Sichuan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Anhui and Liaoning.

President Hu Jintao said yesterday that China will spare no effort to minimize the water-borne pollution damage to Russia, which was caused by the toxic spill in the Songhua River.

Hu told visiting Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev that China will deal with the issue seriously with an attitude of "being highly responsible to the two countries and the two peoples."

In Jiamusi, Heilongjiang Province, China's environment protection chief also pledged that the country would try its best to reduce the harm the toxic slick in Songhua River would cause to neighbouring Russia.

"We are now at a critical moment in the fight against the slick," Zhou Xiansheng, the newly appointed director of the SEPA, said during an inspection tour of Jiamusi yesterday. Zhou took over the post from Xie Zhenhua, who resigned last Friday to take responsibility for the river pollution.

By yesterday morning, the front of the contaminated water arrived at urban Jiamusi, according to the Heilongjiang Provincial Environment Protection Bureau.

But since the city relies mainly on underground water for its supplies and has stopped drawing water from wells near the river bank, water supply has not been affected and residents appeared calm.

A joint team consisting of representatives from SEPA, the Ministry of Water Resources and Heilongjiang Province left for Moscow on Wednesday, according to Qin Gang, Foreign Ministry spokesman.

Qin said that the team would hold talks with Russia's natural resources and foreign affairs ministries before meeting local officials in Khabarovsk, the city most likely to be affected by the slick, and inspect Heilong River (called Amur in Russia) on the Russian side.

The team will update the Russian side on the situation of the slick and China's anti-pollution measures and express willingness to work with Russia in dealing with the aftermath of the pollution.

(China Daily 12/09/2005 page2)

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