U.S. Water News Online
SHANGHAI, China -- Independent testing and decontamination
are urgently needed to cope with a chemical plant spill that
unleashed a slick of benzene and other toxins into a northeastern
Chinese river and then into Russia, a report by the U.N.
Environmental Program said.
The report, issued by a team of U.N. experts who visited areas
affected by the spill in the Songhua River, also urged China to
conduct a "risk assessment" for hazardous substances stored in its
many river basins.
Both China and Russia should provide access to "independent and
impartial sampling and chemical analysis" of the Nov. 13 spill from a
chemical plant explosion, which spewed about 100 tons of benzene and
other chemicals into the Songhua, the report said.
The environmental impact from the accident, including groundwater,
surface water and soil contamination, as well as air pollution, must
be identified and decontamination measures "implemented as a matter
of urgency," it said.
The chemicals released by the accident included benzene,
nitrobenzene and aniline, a poisonous liquid used to make dyes,
resins, rubber additives and agricultural products. All are thought
to be potentially cancer-causing.
The report also urged that an international commission be set up
to promote sustainable development and environmental protection of
the Songhua River, which runs from the Changbai Mountains, near North
Korea's border with China, to the Amur River in Russia.
Lessons should be learned from the incident, the report said,
adding that "these lessons can serve the international community to
improve prevention, preparedness and response capabilities."
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