China blames oil firm for chemical spill – David Lague

From The International Herald Tribune:

The government on Thursday blamed China’s biggest oil company for a pollution spill that allowed an 80-kilometer slick of toxic benzene to reach this northern city of almost four million people on a river that normally supplies it with running water.

In this increasingly unwashed and unflushed city, residents continued to stockpile bottled drinking water for a second day after the authorities stopped pumping from the Songhua River to minimize the risk of poisoning.

With the municipal water system shut down, schools and many businesses remained closed and restaurants in the city center were mostly empty late Thursday as one of China’s worst environmental disasters forced the authorities to mount an investigation that could lead to criminal charges.

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