China has initiated a program to evaluate the ecological impact
of the Songhua River water pollution and put forward
countermeasures, a senior environmental official said in Beijing on
The evaluation program is "an urgent and arduous job" that needs
the joint efforts of related departments, Zhu Guangyao, deputy
director general of the State Environmental Protection
Administration (SEPA), said.
More than 100 researchers from 20 institutions including the
Chinese Academy of Environmental Sciences (CAES) and the
prestigious Tsinghua University have been sent by the State
Council, China's cabinet, to Jiamusi, a city downstream of the
Songhua River in northeast China's Heilongjiang
The program, initiated by SEPA, is composed of 14 task forces
that have been ordered to prepare plans to deal with issues such as
the movement and chemical breakdown of pollutants, the absorption
of pollutants after freezing, the stagnation of the pollutants, and
their impact on the environment, drinking water and fishery
security, Liu Zhengtao, chief researcher of the CAES, said.
Liu said that they are mainly using stalk and straw for
absorbing pollutants due to the high cost of activated carbon.
"Experiments have proven that stalk and straw contain a large
amount of organic carbon and are very good for the absorption of
nitrobenzene," he said.
Continuous monitoring has shown that the nitrobenzene density in
the Songhua River has dropped by a large margin, Zhu said, who is
also deputy head of the investigation team designated by the State
Council to deal with the pollution crisis.
Explosions in a chemical plant on November 13 in Jilin Province
spilled about 100 tons of nitrobenzene into the Songhua River,
forcing the city of Harbin to cut off its water supply for five
SEPA reported on Tuesday that the nitrobenzene density has
continued to drop at Jiamusi, some 244 km upstream from the city of
Tongjiang, where the river joins the Heilongjiang River and flows
The investigation team, formed on December 6, is looking into
the cause of the chemical plant blast and why the plant's safety
mechanisms failed to prevent the benzene from being discharged in
to the river.
It will also find out who should be held accountable for the
The chemical plant operates under the Jilin subsidiary of China
National Petroleum Corporation.
(Xinhua News Agency December 14, 2005)