Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Chinese Water Hazard

Immigrant Songs, an expat from the US who lives in Harbin, has been blogging the crisis. And he didn't buy the official party line of preempting an earthquake or flushing the lines, but that didn't stop others from toeing the government line in an almost automatic response.

From November 21 writes:
Now, I need to say this again, NO ONE REALLY KNOWS WHAT IS GOING ON. I've heard that the water will be off for 4 days, 6 days, and 10 days. I've heard that its because an earthquake is going to happen, I've heard that the earthquake already happened, I've heard that its due to pollution levels, I've heard its because a petrochemical factory on the bank of the local river burnt down thus tainting the water supply. Every person I ask has a different story. Even the newspaper isnt clear.
What does one expect when the government runs the chemical plant in question, the media that supplies the 'news,' and has watchers throughout the country who spy for the government.

And as of yesterday, the water was still off. Five days. CNN is reporting that the water service has been restored, though it came later than the officials had stated:
Local officials had promised millions of Harbin residents that water service would resume by midnight on Sunday, but service resumed at 6 p.m., the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Zhang Zuoji, the governor of Heilongjiang province, took the first drink -- which he had pledged to do earlier in the week, according to Xinhua.
Do I have any chemists or environmental experts in my audience willing to comment on the after-effects of the benzene spill on the Songhua River? I understand that there has been a serious fish kill, but is the benzene and other contaminants persistent. In other words, will this chemical spill essentially act as a ticking time bomb and affect the ecosystem for years to come? Or will time and the rush of water from upstream wash the contaminants away?

Meanwhile, the spill continues to make its way down the Songhua, towards Russia:
Officials in Khabarovsk were preparing emergency plans including the possible shutdown of its water system, AP reported. A senior Russian official visited the city on Saturday and said its water purification system was being quickly upgraded.

Fixed first paragraph. Cross linked to Don Surber, Basil's Blog, Mudville Gazette, Point Five, Stop the ACLU, The Truckin' Blog and the Political Teen

No comments: