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Top Environment Official Inspects NE China Pollution

China's newly appointed top environment official on Monday reviewed the lesson from the recent Songhua River pollution in northeast China, and said it was a "pain like cutting flesh."


Zhou Shengxian, director of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), made the remark while inspecting wastewater drainage by enterprises along the Songhua River in Jiamusi, Heilongjiang Province.


"The pollution of the Songhua River water is a pain like cutting flesh that shocked the world," Zhou said.


"The Songhua River is the mother river for local residents. We must protect it and make good use of it," he added.


SEPA reported on Monday that the tail end of the chemical spill in the Songhua River will soon pass Jiamusi, some 244 km from the city of Tongjiang downstream, where the river joins the Heilongjiang River and flows into Russia.


The nitrobenzene density has been falling as the slick flows downstream due to evaporation and settling, SEPA said.


The chemical spill is the result of an explosion at an upstream petrochemical plant last month. SEPA has established 30 monitoring posts along the river.


Zhou urged local businesses to work to develop resources-saving and environment-friendly methods, saying: "Everyone is obliged to protect the environment and achieve sustainable development."


"Businesses shouldn't make development and environmental protection opposite to each other," he stressed.


The newly appointed SEPA director who replaced Xie Zhenhua earlier this month also called on environmental authorities to strengthen law enforcement.


"Where does the authority of the environmental protection department come from? It comes from strict environmental law enforcement," he said.


(Xinhua News Agency December 13, 2005)

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