Harbin water crisis

Former Chinese environment minister rises from ashes – various

The English-language wires all have pieces today on the political resurrection of Xie Zhenhua (ËߣÊåØÂçé), the former head of the State Environmental Protection Administration, who resigned in 2005 after the Songhua River beneze pollution debacle. From AP via Taipei Times: Xie…has been appointed vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s most powerful […]

Official: China’s Songhua River suffering near-daily chemical spills – AP

With Beijing hosting the World Water Congress, the Associated Press provides the latest update to the Songhua River pollution story (via China Environmental News Digest): China’s Songhua River, the site of a massive chemical spill last year that halted water supplies to tens of millions of people, has been hit by more than 130 water […]

China takes on toxic industry – Mary-Anne Toy

From The Age: CHINA’S top environmental watchdog is demanding immediate reporting of pollution accidents to avoid a repeat of the disastrous toxic spill on the Songhua River. The State Environmental Protection Administration said it had received 45 accident reports, mostly water pollution, since last November when an explosion in a chemical plant on the Songhua […]

Spill shows how China tries to hold back rivers of change – James Rose

From The Age: There are many problems in China: social and environmental, political and economic. But behind them is the lack of media freedom. As such, the crisis surrounding the Songhua River spill symbolises the country’s wider woes. A poisoned river can spoil many lives. So, too, a poisoned media. Technorati Tags: China, press freedom

Spill Reaches City, Water Called Fine – Yuras Karmanau

From AP, via The Moscow Times: A toxic spill that poisoned drinking water for millions of Chinese flowed into the city of Khabarovsk on Thursday, but authorities said the concentration of pollutants was no longer dangerous. Residents, however, remained worried, and Governor Viktor Ishayev appealed to them “to keep calm.” “We have done everything we […]

China’s Rapid Development and the Environment – Talk of the Nation

NPR’s Talk of the Nation interviewed Elizabeth Economy for today’s program: Critics say that China’s rapid economic growth leads to pollution in the air and water, and leaves mountains of untreated waste. In one recent incident, an explosion at a Chinese chemical plant spilled benzene into a major river, cutting off the water supply to […]

China’s PR problem – Los Angeles Times

From a Los Angeles Times editorial: There’s something about the international spotlight that spurs Chinese officials to admit wrongdoing, raising doubts about whether they would have done anything without the glare. Last month, Beijing waited until 10 days after the incident to tell the public about a factory explosion that dumped 100 tons of benzene […]

China begins to evaluate environmental impact of Songhua River – Xinhua

From Xinhua: China has initiated a program to evaluate the ecological impact of the Songhua River water pollution in northeast China and put forward countermeasures, said a senior environmental official said here Tuesday. The evaluation program is “an urgent and arduous job” that needs the joint efforts of related departments, said Zhu Guangyao, deputy director […]

Vice-mayor found dead ‘feared prison’ – Cynthai Wan

From the South China Morning Post, via Asia Media: The Jilin deputy mayor due to be questioned by investigators probing the Songhua River spill told his wife the day before he hanged himself he feared he would be jailed, a pro-Beijing newspaper in Hong Kong reported yesterday. Wang Wei, 43, was discovered dead by his […]

Damage Control: Chinese press leaks on the big spill

Pity China’s propaganda-meisters. Since the truth broke that the Songhua River was accidentally spiked with a blast of benzene, the party’s Central Publicity Department (CPD), charged with the somewhat absurd task of covering up a screwed-up cover-up, have tried and failed twice. The mess has only gotten uglier. Now the spokesman who first sounded of […]

Who’s to Blame? – Melinda Liu and Jonathan Ansfield

From Newsweek: A 43-year-old apparatchik, Wang Wei wasn’t the type to make headlines. Just a few months ago, he’d become the city of Jilin’s deputy mayor responsible for, among other things, industrial management and work safety. But the day after a Nov. 13 benzene-plant explosion in the city killed five people and wounded dozens, Wang […]

Businessmen sue over Chinese leak – BBC

From BBC NEWS: Businessmen from the Chinese city of Harbin are planning to sue the state-owned chemical company blamed for poisoning the water supply. Water to the city was cut off last month after an explosion at the plant allowed 100 tonnes of benzene to spill into the Songhua river. The businessmen’s lawyer told the […]

China Vows to Minimize Damage to Russia From Toxic Spill

From MOSNEWS.COM: President Hu Jintao has vowed to “spare no effort” to minimize the damage from a chemical spill on Russia as Beijing mulled plans to build a temporary dam to stop the slick, the AFX news agency reported. “We will take all necessary and effective measures and do our utmost to minimize the pollution […]

The Cost of China’s Development – Wenran Jiang

From the Jamestown Foundation’s China Brief: In a rare disclosure of the enormous hidden cost of China‘s rapid economic development, the Chinese government acknowledged last week that “sudden public incidents“ such as industrial accidents, social safety accidents, and natural disasters are responsible for over one million casualties and the loss of six percent of GDP […]

China’s Government Cracks Down After Toxic Spill – Anthony Kuhn

From National Public Radio’s Day to Day: The Chinese government fired its environmental protection minister and other officials over the spill of deadly toxic chemicals still coursing through a river in the country’s northeast. The administration of President Hu Jintao has pledged to hold officials accountable, but the handling of the spill suggests local officials […]

China mulls dam for toxic spill – AP

From AP, via CNN.com: China is considering building a temporary dam to stop a river-borne toxic spill that is headed toward a Russian city, a government newspaper reported Thursday. The dam would be built on a waterway at the juncture of two rivers on the Chinese-Russian border, the China Daily said, citing an unidentified Chinese […]

China vows to punish any coverup of spill – AP

From AP, via Forbs: A deputy mayor of Jilin who told reporters the chemical plant explosion had not led to any pollution was found dead at home Tuesday. The United States said Tuesday that it was sending experts to help China cope with a river-borne toxic spill that is approaching Russia’s Far East, while Beijing […]

China’s Katrina – Melinda Liu and Jonathan Ansfield

From Newsweek: Bungling, delay, cover-up. When such missteps follow a major disaster, officials often have to resign. We saw it unfold in the United States after the killer hurricane Katrina. Now we’re seeing heads roll in China, following the Nov. 13 chemical plant explosion that killed five people and spilled 100 tons of benzene-like carcinogens […]

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