China City Gets Water; Not Safe to Drink – Joe McDonald
Five days after an embarrassing chemical spill, China’s government celebrated the return of running water to this city of 3.8 million as a victory for the communist system while warning the water was still not safe to drink.
The spill was a political disaster for President Hu Jintao’s government and cast a harsh light on the environmental costs of China’s breakneck development.
Hu’s government issued apologies to China’s public and to Russia, where a border city downstream is bracing for the arrival of the 50-mile-long benzene slick.
State media have accused officials of lying about and trying to conceal the spill – the result of a Nov. 13 chemical plant blast in Jilin, a city upstream from Harbin, that killed five people and forced 10,000 more to flee their homes.