Legal Remedies for Transboundary Pollution
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Michael Faure and Song Ying
Chapter 10: Reflections from the Transboundary Pollution of Songhua River
10. Reﬂections from the transboundary pollution of Songhua River Wang Jin, Huang Chiachen and Yan Houfu 1 INTRODUCTION The Songhua River, the third largest river in China, joins the Heilong River after ﬂowing through Harbin City and forms a natural border with the Russian Federation. The river continues into Russia and is then named the Amur River. The Amur River ﬂows through Khabarovsk City, of which the population is approximately 600,000, into the Bering Strait. The Songhua River, the Heilong River and the Amur River are together the main water supply for the cities and regions situated along those rivers. On 13 November 2005, an explosion accidentally occurred at a petrochemical plant owned by PetroChina Cooperation (‘PetroChina’), which was located in Jilin City, in the Jilin Province, China. The accident was caused by an operational fault. After the accident occurred, heavy smoke and dust was emitted into the sky above Jilin City. To prevent and to reduce the amount of air pollution above and around Jilin City, the competent authorities of Jilin Provincial Government used large amounts of water to clean the explosion site. During the cleaning, the water was used to wash oﬀ the explosion site and the residue. It was estimated that 100 tons of toxic substances, made up of a mixture of benzene and nitrobenzene, was spilled into the upper stream of the Songhua River. The contaminants in the surface water highly exceeded the water safety standards permissible in China. On 22 November 2005, the...
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