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Tap-water supply cut off as city braces for toxic slick
By Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-12-05 05:30

JIAMUSI, Heilongjiang: The city government yesterday banned the use of water from Songhua River even though the toxic slick was still some distance away.

A prominent warning was posted on a board along the river bank at the city's famous Songhua Square forbidding water from being drawn from the river, using it in industries or households, fishing, swimming or extracting ice.

Sand will not be permitted to be extracted from within 100 metres of the river bank.

The slick had forced Harbin, 350 kilometres upstream of Jiamusi, to cut its water supply for four days. Yesterday, Jiamusi cut tap-water supply, but the 550,000 urban residents were calm about the approaching toxic slick, which will arrive at noon tomorrow.

The city government is persuading the 300 households of Liushu Island, which occupies 10 square kilometres in the river, to move.

Wang Xianjia, the head of one of the three villages, said only about 80 people, mainly children and the elderly from 26 households, had moved to the city; and that 202 were staying put.

"They have livestock and harvested grain to look after," he said.

The government had ordered that no wells be used, Wang said.

But those who stayed back have stored enough water, Wang said.

Li Haitao, mayor of Jiamusi, has warned that pollutants are likely to be formed as a sediment along the island, resulting in long-term contamination of drinking water.

The Heilongjiang Provincial Environment Protection Bureau said that 17 checking stations had been set up along the Songhua River, which were monitoring water quality round the clock.

It reports on the situation daily to Russian authorities.

By 2 pm yesterday, the front of the slick was in Yilan County, 343 kilometres from Sanjiangkou, where Songhua River meets Heilong River, called Amur in Russia.

(China Daily 12/05/2005 page2)

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