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UNEP Praises China for Combating Pollution
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China has made impressive commitment to monitoring the Songhua River pollution in a regular and systematic way and to sharing results and other information with neighboring Russia and the United Nations Environment Program, a UNEP report said.

The report, released on Friday, also praised a recently established joint monitoring program between China and Russia, calling it "an encouraging step in further multilateral cooperation on shared water resources."

UNEP said it was ready to assist Chinese authorities further in relation to both the current spill and with measures to reduce the risk of a similar incident in the future.

The report was completed by a four-person team of UNEP experts who visited northeast China last month to examine the November 13 blast at the Jilin Petrochemical Corporation and its polluting effects on the Songhua River.

In its report, the team called for knowledge gained from the incident to be incorporated into policy, legislation and enforcement.

The Songhua River merges with the Heilong River and forms a natural border with Russia, eventually flowing into the Sea of Okhotsk.

China and UNEP "have agreed to share this report with the relevant Russian authorities," the Kenyan-based agency said in a news release.

The UNEP report described the chemical spill as "probably one of the largest trans-boundary chemical spill incidents in a river system in recent years."

It stressed that the accident has "major trans-boundary and international significance" and suggested that both China and Russia provide access for "independent and impartial" sampling and chemical analysis of the spill.

But the UN report said that during the initial phase after the explosion, the government's "communication and information sharing with the general public was not adequate."

(China Daily January 14, 2006)

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