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No contaminants from a Chinese petrochemicals plant have been found yet in the Amur River
No contaminants from a Chinese petrochemicals plant have been found yet in the Amur River, but units of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry in the far eastern Khabarovsk Territory are on alert, a ministry spokesman said Thursday. "Tests of water samples have not shown hazardous levels of chemicals, which could flow into the Amur River from its tributary, the Songhua River," the spokesman said. Authorities in the Khabarovsk Territory are considering imposing a state of emergency beginning November 25 as heavily polluted water from China heads toward cities on the Amur River. But authorities of the Jewish Autonomous Area, where the Amur River crosses into Russia, said they would not consider this option. According to Russian experts, the poisonous chemicals are expected to reach Russia November 27-28 and Khabarovsk, December 1. Local sources said the prices of juice and bottled water in Khabarovsk had risen 10%-15% due to residents' fears. Russia's Ambassador to China Sergei Razov said Thursday he had discussed the situation with China's senior environmental protection officials, who informed him that the quality of water in the Songhua River in China's Jilin province, where an explosion occurred at the petrochemicals plant 11 days ago, had returned to normal two days ago. The November 13 blast at the plant belonging to the Jilin Petroleum and Chemical Company in the northeastern Chinese province of Heilongjiang caused lethal benzene to spill into the Songhua River, the main source of fresh water for the nearby Chinese city of Harbin, with a population of 9 million. Heilongjiang authorities said Thursday that the 80-km-long (50 miles) spill had reached Harbin, raising benzene levels to 28.5 times the norm. Chinese experts said the spill would reach Russia, which is 700 kilometers (440 miles) away, no earlier than December 8 with significantly lower contamination levels.
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