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Environmental chief sacked following major pollution
Updated: 2005-12-02 19:15

Xie Zhenhua, director of China's State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), has resigned, according to an announcement issued by the State Council, or cabinet, on Friday.

Environmental chief sacked following major pollution

Xie was replaced by Zhou Shengxian, former director of State Forestry Administration.

"Xie submitted a resignation request to the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council. The request has been approved," said a joint circular from the general offices of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, the Chinese cabinet.  

Xie is blamed on a toxic chemical spill that polluted a major river in northeast China which inflicted several days of water stoppage.

A November 13 chemical plant explosion in Jilin city spewed cancer-causing benzene into the Songhua River, and Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang Province on the downstream of the river, had to suspended its water supplies to millions of its residents for four days .

The benzene spill on Friday was lengthening and slowing down as it flowed toward Russia. China has apologized for this pollution accident and offered Russia with pollution monitoring equipment and other materials.

A circular from the State Council said the environmental administration underestimated the serious consequences likely to be arising from the pollution and was held responsible for the huge losses from the pollution accident. Xie took the blame and asked to quit. 

"It should bear due responsibility for the losses caused by this incident," the circular added.

Xie, born in 1949, is a native of Tianjin. He became chief of SEPA in 1993.

Zhou, also born in 1949, is a native of Wuzhong, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in northwest China.

The State Council announcement also says that Jia Zhibang, former vice-minister of civil affairs, has been appointed director of the State Forestry Administration.

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