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Harbin Water Pollution


venture160
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ok so for those of you who are not in Harbin, there is currently a citywide water stoppage for a minimum for 4 days. Its insane here, go here to read more. BBC and such have also started to pick this up. If you ask me its a major crisis for the government up here, how do you sustain an economy without water?

http://www.zonaeuropa.com/20051123_1.htm

People in Harbin, have you found water? Are your classes canceled, I heard HeiDa has the week off!!! They are keeping us here at HIT, which SUCKS. Man I just want a shower and some food that doesn't have cancer causing chemicals in it. You should seriously stay clear of restaraunt food, how the hell do they wash stuff if there is no water to clean anything? What are you doing to eat food? Do you have heating, luckily HIT is on a closed circuit heating system which means they recylce their water, so for the mean time we have heat. (crossing my fingers) Well I hope you guys all hang in there.

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Yeah this whole situation is pretty fucked up...

I have a whole series of buckets and bowls around my apartment filled with water, for washing and toilet activity etc.

The crazy thing though is that noone really knows WHY it happened...

Depending who you talk to it is either because of the long summer, and we've had no snow yet, an earthquake, or a chemical spillage in the Songhua (like the water was THAT fresh)

My school is still up and running (I'm in Dong Li), but I had a phonecall from my Headmaster last night, saying that Harbin, or the Heilongjiang area has been put on earthquake alert, and the government are ordering all schools to shut down within the next few days.

I have know idea how accurate anything I have just said is, just passing on what I know.

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According to HK press, some 5-Star hotels like Shangri-la still have water supply because the Harbin water authority has special arrangement to right awy hook up the underground water with these foreign-owned hotels.

Moreover, it is advisable to only dine in the restaurants in those hotels with their own water suppy. You don't know how the roadside restaurants wash the dishes.

And it looks like the water supply will be off for longer than 4 days since the school kids have been given 8 days for holiday.

And the reason given is kind of fishy. It looks like there are some other causes because:

(1) Other cities in the lower reachs of Sunghua River, like Jiamusi, still provides regular water supply. So it may not have been related to the polluted Sunghua River.

(2) The Jilin authority has clarified that the explosion did not pollute the river.

(3) If there is indeed pollution, the polluted water should have already passed Harbin much earlier.

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from the wall street journal asia electronic edition, leading article

Chinese city shuts off

water after accident

Harbin's decision marks

challenges Beijing faces

in controlling pollution

By JASON DEAN

Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

November 23, 2005

BEIJING -- A major Chinese city shut off water to residents to

protect the population from possible contamination by a chemical

factory accident.

Officials in Harbin, a provincial capital in northeast China, began

the water shutdown yesterday, and said the extraordinary measure

probably would last at least four days. Word of the move, which

leaked out before the announcement, sparked panic-buying of bottled

water by the city's 3.1 million urban residents.

Harbin's plight highlights the enormous environmental challenges

afflicting China amid galloping economic growth. The accident that

Harbin officials fear may have contaminated their water supply

occurred earlier this month, after several explosions shook a

chemical plant owned by a unit of PetroChina Co., one of China's

biggest energy companies. PetroChina, majority owned by the Chinese

government and listed on the New York Stock Exchange, had suggested

in a statement after the incident that environmental damage had been

contained.

The company couldn't be reached for comment yesterday.

"Water pollution is a big problem in China," said Ma Jun, an

environmental expert and author of the book "China's Water Crisis."

"We need to do more work on the risk management of our heavy industry

and heavy chemical industry."

Mr. Ma said that while he hadn't studied the details of the Harbin

incident, it appeared to mark the first time a city of its size had

taken such a drastic measure.

The Harbin episode also illustrates the increasing difficulty that

Chinese officials face in trying to manage the flow of bad news, as

technology facilitates the spread of information. Harbin's government

had initially issued a notice Monday about the shutdown that merely

said the move was to guarantee the safety of the water supply,

without explaining why. But by that time, word of the decision had

already spread on the Internet, and the vague notice sparked angry

Web-site postings calling for greater clarity.

The Harbin government then issued a second notice sometime later,

which local journalists said wasn't widely distributed until

yesterday, acknowledging that the shutdown was triggered by a series

of explosions at the chemical factory on Nov. 13. The explosions

occurred some 200 kilometers away in Jilin city, near the Songhua

River, which flows downstream to Harbin and supplies its water. The

plant, owned by PetroChina unit Jilin Petrochemical Co., produces

aniline, a toxic chemical used in products as diverse as varnish and

explosives.

PetroChina had issued a statement Nov. 15 acknowledging the

explosion, which it said had killed five people and injured 23. The

statement said the fire resulting from the explosion "was

extinguished after all the substances on the scene were burnt out."

It added that "following an environment survey, it was noted that the

air quality in the area of the accident complies with the relevant

standard."

The statement made no mention of possible water contamination. It

said investigations were continuing into the reason behind the

explosions.

The Harbin government, in its second, more detailed notice, said that

no pollution has yet been registered in the Songhua near the city,

but that contamination was possible in the near future. The

government didn't say whether it had detected contamination further

upstream.

An official in the city's Communist Party office said the plan was to

close off the Harbin water supply from the river until any

contaminated waters had flowed farther downstream. The official said

that if the water quality improves after four days, "we will resume

the supply. If not, the order will last one or two more days." In a

new notice posted yesterday, the government urged people to make

preparations such as buying bottled water, and said the city would

try to tap underground wells. It also ordered industries that use

large amounts of water to shut down.

It wasn't clear how the contamination would affect other people who

live along the Songhua, which stretches nearly 2,000 kilometers

across the provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang, home to Harbin.

Pollution has been a growing problem in China in recent years, and

has caused water-system shutdowns before in some smaller cities. The

central government has tried to step up environmental protection, but

its efforts are often foiled by managers at state-run factories and

by local government officials, experts and officials say.

In Harbin, panicked residents began emptying local store shelves of

bottled water and other beverages Monday afternoon.

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I am soon going to Harbin (in 10 days) so I certainly like to stay updated on how the situation is in Harbin, if any members care informing me.

I have done some research online too, and it seems that shutting down water supply to avoid any potential harm from the chemical plant is the main reason. Which seems responsible and fair enough, even compare to the problems it creates.

I notice that the earthquake warning is also circulating and I hear that trains are full of people fleeing the area, hardly possible to get tickets anywhere they say. So are people fleeing Harbin in large numbers.... or what is the situation?

Probably there is fear that the eatrthuake in a nearby city (diolong..or..?) some days ago will be followed by a big one also in Harbin. No info can be found and no earthquake warnings can be found on the net, but one should keep looking.

Some rumors say the earthquake is like to hit between 23 and 30 so we will soon see...

Precautions are good, but spreading panic is not. So the question is if we really know if the water issue and earthquake fear is connected....?

Keep up reporting..:)

Absolutely interested to hear any news around this topic and situation in HArbin

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well now it seems that the chinese are blocking the roads out of the city, train tickets are sold out, and so are plane tickets. Its insane here. BBC says the level of pollution is 180 times the accepted level. Don't drink the water folks, for that matter use it in any way.

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Okay. Now it seems the Jilin guys are bad guys while the Harbin guys are good guys.

Even though the Jilin guy has apologized to Harbin, but no compensation is offered.

And what happens to those people in Jilin who unknowingly drank the polluted water for 10 days?

If there is press freedom, the cover-up could not last that long.

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And what happens to those people in Jilin who unknowingly drank the polluted water for 10 days?

This is from RTHK news ->

內 地 傳 媒 報 道 , 哈 爾 濱 宣 布 因 松 花 江 污 染 而 停 水 前 , 吉 林 省 的 松 原 市 已 經 一 度 停 止 供 水 。

《 生 活 報 》 報 道 , 位 處 松 花 江 吉 林 段 下 游 的 松 原 市 寧 江 區 , 一 度 停 水 七 日 , 直 至 昨 日 才 恢 復 供 水 。 當 地 居 民 說 , 大 部 份 人 都 沒 有 儲 起 用 水 , 需 要 到 商 店 購 買 礦 泉 水 飲 用 , 部 份 人 就 到 供 應 地 下 水 的 地 方 取 水 。 當 地 部 門 二 十 四 小 時 監 測 水 質 。

And the pollution may affect Russia ->

Russia says it's urgently seeking information on the contamination amid concerns that it could affect Russian territory. Its emergency and environmental officials were in contact with their Chinese counterparts to try to establish the scope of the pollution in order to take preventative measures where the Songhua crossed into its territory. A Foreign Ministry spokesman in Beijing said China was alert to the care of other countries' border water interests. No other details were given.

source

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Times like this you wish you had outdoor "horsehole" toilets like the old days.

More than one place I went in Harbin did. That was a few years ago though.

Having stuck around through SARS I know how much complete rubbish gets passed around as fact during a crisis, especially when the press and government aren't trusted to report frankly. I'd be wary of believing anything you haven't seen yourself. Can't be any fun though.

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The Water crisis in Harbin has now reached first page on Norwegian newspapers as well as main evening news here so it certainly has gotten peoples attention around the world.

Seems that the local government has done the right thing though. Even if being wthout water for some days must be very unpleasant.

Kust hope it is back to normal in early december...:-?

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Update on the Russia situation, looks like they're closing down water plants near Harbin:

Russia Prepares for Chinese Chemical Spill to Cross Border

``It's an emergency situation here and we'll officially declare it this weekend at the latest,'' said Sergei Zimin, a spokesman for the regional government, by phone today. ``We're testing the Amur River every six hours and we expect the contamination to reach Russia by December at the latest.''

By December? So in effect they won't be able to turn the water on until January at the latest, if they don't see anything?

The article also states that indeed one of the chemicals is benzene, analine is also a possible contaminant.

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