The United Nations Under Secretary Klaus Toepfer said in Beijing
on Wednesday that he appreciated the efforts by the Chinese
government in tackling the major pollution in northeast China's
"We are informed of the Songhua River pollution on a daily basis
and if required, can contact the Chinese environment minister
through the Chinese Embassy in Kenya," said Toepfer, also executive
director of the Nairobi-based UN Environment Program
In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, he said he was also
personally informed of the pollution in detail upon arrival in
Beijing on Wednesday by Xie Zhenhua, minister of China's State
Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).
A full package of measures should be taken to tackle the
pollution, he said, noting that first of all, the people living
along the river should be kept informed of the pollution solution
and advised to restrict the use of the polluted water.
He said that good work had been done in Harbin, capital city of
northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, where water supply had
been cut off for four days before the taps were turned on again on
"Second, it is the right decision to set up a task force in the
SEPA to concentrate knowledge and capacity with regard to
assessment, monitoring and actions, and I believe it will be
helpful," he said.
Toepfer spoke highly of Premier Wen Jiabao's recent visit to the
polluted part of the Songhua River, saying the visit helped build
up confidence in fighting the pollution.
He said that the SEPA had invited UNEP staff to the Songhua
River "to have a first hand view" of the pollution.
"The UNEP stands ready to be available in this especially
difficult situation to help China combat the pollution," he
He noted that it was necessary to inform and cooperate with
Russia to tackle the pollution, as the polluted water will flow
into the Heilongjiang River that borders China and
According to SEPA, China now informs Russia of the pollution
development twice a day and has sent it monitoring equipment. China
has also provided Russia with a list of pollutants in the Songhua
Meanwhile, Russia has also sent a delegation to China to learn
about the situation.
On Wednesday, Xie pledged that China would do its utmost to
confine the Songhua River pollution within the country's boundaries
to minimize any cross-border impact.
The pollution in the Songhua River was caused by a chemical
plant explosion in Jilin City of northeast China's Jilin Province.
About 100 tons of benzene-type material was dumped into the river
as a result.
"I think the lesson learned from the incident is as important as
the fight against the consequences of the disaster," Toepfer
(Xinhua News Agency December 1, 2005)