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Two Chinese workers are to blame for a spillage of toxic waste into a tributary of the Songhua River bordering on Russia's Far East
Two Chinese workers are to blame for a spillage of toxic waste into a tributary of the Songhua River bordering on Russia's Far East, a Russian local environmental watchdog said Friday. Chinese media said Wednesday that on August 20 the Jilin chemical plant discharged untreated industrial waste containing highly toxic benzene derivatives into a tributary of the Songhua River, which runs into the Amur River in Russia's Far East. The reports provoked fears that a major environmental alert after an explosion last November would be repeated. But Viktor Dubinin, head of the environmental committee of the Russian city of Khabarovsk, laid the blame squarely on the individuals. "Two drivers carrying benzene waste to a refinery in Jilin stopped 38 kilometers [23 miles] from their destination and drained the waste into a tributary of the Songhua," he said. China's Consulate General in Khabarovsk earlier said 10 cubic meters of waste had been drained into the river and that the authorities in Jilin had built a dam at the lower reaches of the river and packed it with absorbent carbon. "Tests of water downriver are carried out every hour and we believe there is no threat," Dubinin said. He said the drivers had been arrested and the head of the enterprise held responsible. A spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources echoed Dubin, citing Chinese officials as saying the spillage had been contained in a smaller river and there was "no threat of any chemical pollution in the Songhua River." The ministry said the industrial waste comprised amino xylene, or xylidine, an antioxidant used as coloring agent. The November blast at the plant belonging to the Jilin Petroleum and Chemical Company in the northeastern Chinese province of Heilongjiang caused 100 metric tons of potentially lethal benzene to spill into the Songhua. The spill came close to creating an environmental catastrophe in the Russian Far East as a massive slick passed along the Amur, eventually spilling into the Sea of Okhotsk. China failed to inform Russia until days after the incident.
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