A Chinese environment official has denied a toxic discharge into a northeastern river last month was linked to an outbreak of meningitis in neighboring Russia.
A post on China's State Environmental Protection Administration's website quoted an anonymous official as saying the "meningitis in Russia's border region Khabarovsk has no links with the Songhua River pollution".
On August 21, illegally-discharged pollutants from the Changbaishan Jingxi Chemical Co. in the Mangniu River, a tributary of Songhua River, flowed across China's northern border into Russia, into the Amur River potentially contaminating Khabarovsk City's water supply. Media reports claim that Russian officials have pointed the finger at the water fouling for a meningitis outbreak in Khabarovsk.
Pollutants discharged in the incident could not cause humans to contract the meningitis virus as the poisonous substance was not conducive to virus reproduction, said the Chinese official.
Chinese and Russian environment experts jointly surveyed sections of Songhuajiang River and Heilongjiang River from September 1 to 8 and no particular pollutants were found.
(Xinhua News Agency September 29, 2006)