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  Monday, November 18, 2019
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Russia has asked China for information after a petrochemical plant fire in the border city of Harbin
Russia has asked China for information after a petrochemical plant fire in the border city of Harbin Saturday raised concerns that a toxic river spill last year might be repeated, a spokesman said. A blast at a Chinese petrochemicals factory in November 2005 led to about 100 metric tons of benzene and other toxic substances spewing in the Songhua River, which feeds into Russia's Amur, but Chinese officials failed to provide their Russian counterparts with any information for several days. And a spokesman for Russia's Natural Resources Ministry said Monday, "We have no information of chemical substances spilled in the Songhua River yet. We expect an answer from the Chinese side on Tuesday." He added that the request about the fire, which is believed to have covered 200 square meters of a paint production unit of the plant, had been sent to the Chinese Consulate General in the regional center of Khabarovsk. According to Russian data, as many as 20 million people in northeastern China suffered from the hazardous effects of last year's explosion and the six million residents of the city of Harbin had their taps turned off for five days. The ensuing 130-mile toxic slick from the blast passed several Russian cities including the regional center of Khabarovsk, which is home to 600,000 people, before falling into the Sea of Okhotsk.
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