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Jilin, PetroChina apologize for chemical spill
Updated: 2005-11-24 14:10

The Party head of Jilin City, where a chemical plant exploded on November 13, and the plant's owner, PetroChina Company Ltd, have apologized to Harbin residents for the contamination of the Songhua River, the main water supply point for Harbin, Beijing News reported Thursday.

The Harbin government cut the city's water supply for four days because of fears of contamination and many schools in the city have been shut until next Wednesday.

PetroChina has offered 60 water tankers to Harbin and helped to dig wells for ground water.

For Harbin, a city with about 4 million residents in urban areas, the water stoppage means inconvenience and difficulty greater than people could imagine.

People in Jilin Province seldom drink water from the Songhua, but 90 percent of the drinking water in Harbin comes from it, said Zhai Pingyang, an official of Heilongjiang environment institute.

He said many chemical plants beside the Songhua in Jilin Province had been pouring polluted water into the river for decades and the two provinces had negotiated about the situation many times.

Even after Harbin announced to suspend drinking water supply citywide due to river pollution, the Jilin petrochemical company, where the powerful blasts occurred on November 13, insisted that the blasts caused no pollution to the river.

Today, the petrochemical plant remains silent after the State Environmental Protection Agency and its parent company PetroChina confirmed the pollution accident.

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