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“The concentration of pollutions is decreasing” due to the mixing of the Sungari and Amur waters
“The concentration of pollutions is decreasing” due to the mixing of the Sungari and Amur waters. “Practically the same level of nitro-benzene pollution is being recorded both along the Chinese and Russian banks, whereas there was an almost “ten-fold margin” between them only a few days ago, Gavrilov told a meeting of the Commission on the prevention and liquidation of emergencies in the territory. The pollution slick between Khabarovsk and Komsomolsk-on-Amur is moving at a slower pace now – 25-30 kilometres per second. It will reach the village of Troitskaya on December 29, Amursk – on January 2, and Komsomolsk-on-Amur – on January 4. Chlorine and phenol polluted water was first recorded near Khabarovsk on Thursday. It leaked down the Kazakevich Channel before it was fully dammed. The hydrologists recorded after that some “Sungari pollutions” in Amur proper, too. Damming of the Pemza Channel, on which scientists of the Institute of Water and Ecology Problems, as well as some other specialists, had firmly insisted, played a decisive role in the dilution of the pollution concentrations next to Khabarovsk. Up to sixty per cent of the entire Amur stream flow had previously passed mainly through that channel in circumvention of the main bed of the Amur River. Now the amount of water in the riverbed has practically doubled. Khabarovsk Territorial Governor Viktor Ishayev stressed that “the situation is under control. Everything is proceeding normally and within the expected regime”. However, the problem will not be over after the pollution slick passes by Khabarovsk. It will have to be actively monitored up to the lower reaches of the Amur River. Much work has still to be done to do away with the consequences of the pollution, he noted. “We were forced to shut off the water intakes for several hours and to announce an emergency situation,” Ishayev told pressmen. On decision of the local authorities, he added, the Pemza Channel was dammed in time, allowing reducing the concentration of nitro-benzene already now, “when we have to deal with a maximum level of pollution”. “Purification of the water is being done at a three-fold higher level than normal,” Ishayev assured. The governor is inclined to blame the federal structures for what had happened, since they proved unprepared to make effective decisions to cope with the ecologic menace, he stated. “The Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Natural Resources and various windbags in Moscow, who did not sense the danger of the situation” linked with the damming of the Kazakevich Channel, had committed huge delays. As a result, much to much time was lost, Ishayev stated. In his opinion, “it is necessary to go over to a new level of monitoring the entire length of the Amur River: special craft and cross-country vehicles are needed and they should be equipped with effective means to check the quality of water”. The governor stressed the importance attached in Khabarovsk to the prompt tapping of the Tungus source of underground water. He noted the financial difficulties linked with this problem. “We have a preliminary promise of the central federal authorities to allocate one billion roubles for this purpose, whereas the entire project is estimated to cost 7.8 billions”. Presidential Plenipotentiary Representative in the Far Eastern Federal District Kamal Iskhakov called on “Rosprirodnadzor” (Environment Monotoring Service) Friday not to make any rash statements on the situation in the area of the Amur River. He particularly criticised Deputy Head of the Federal Ecology Service Oleg Mitvol, who had expressed fears that China could gain from an alleged “shift of the Russian state border due to the construction of the dam across the Kazakevich Channel. “Iskhakov described this point of view as “absolutely unreasoned” and “ridiculous”. “Every official should attend to his own business and should not meddle with the affairs of other ministries and institutions. The border problem is not within the competence of Rosprirodnadzor, he stressed. The dam was built on the Chinese territory, Iskhakov noted, accentuating the fact that there was a treaty on the state border between Russia and China and “its line is not approximate, but absolutely exact”. The Pemza and Kazakevich dams “are discharging their function of protecting Khabarovsk from polluted waters”, Iskhakov stated while overflying the Channel by helicopter. The authorities of the South China Province of Guangtong had decided to dam the Beijiang River to prevent the spread of the cadmium slick and to bar the flow of polluted water towards the city of Guanchow. Local sources reported on Friday that the sluices of the dam of the Baishiao hydraulic power plant, which is 100 kilometres to the north of Guanchow, were shut off, as well as of another dam down the river. The hydro-engineering installations will be reopened only after the cadmium concentration drops to a safe level. Several hundred cubic metres of clean water will be discharged from a water reservoir for this purpose. The Shaoguan zinc smelting plant is to blame for the pollution due to which several cities were left without any water supply. Its poisonous wastes got into the river on December 16. However, it was learned about the ecologic disaster only this week. Measurements showed that the maximum permissible content of cadmium, which is a highly toxic substance capable of affecting the central nerve system and internal organs of human beings, topped ten-fold the normal level. The Beijiang a tributary of the Pearl River, standing on the banks of which is the huge South China city of Guanchow with its population of more than nine million people.
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