China and International Environmental Liability
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China and International Environmental Liability

Legal Remedies for Transboundary Pollution

Edited by Michael Faure and Song Ying

This book considers the ways in which transboundary environmental pollution can be remedied through a variety of legal instruments. Particular attention is paid to the pollution of the Songhua river in China, but legal remedies to transboundary pollution are also discussed in a broader context.
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Chapter 12: International Legal Aspect of the Songhua River Incident

Song Ying


Song Ying 1 INTRODUCTION Since the Songhua River spill incident of November 2005, environmental pollution, especially water pollution, remains a heated topic in China, especially with the recent publication of the new draft on the revised Water Pollution Prevention and Control Law (1996 WPPCL), the aim of which is to invite comments and suggestions from the public. This Songhua River incident, apart from the initial shock to both China and beyond, provided a good case study to examine many of the difficult issues and challenges facing China in her pursuit of a more sustainable pattern of economic and social development. Two other contributions in this book have discussed the domestic legal aspect of the incident; therefore the purpose of this chapter is to focus on the international legal aspect of this incident. 2 SONGHUA RIVER SPILL AND SUBSEQUENT DEVELOPMENT On 13 November 2005, an explosion occurred at a petrochemical plant (No. 101 Plant or the Jilin Benzhydrol Plant) of Jilin Petrochemical Corporation, located in the city of Jilin of Jilin Province in the north-eastern part of China. In the process of fire fighting, about 100 tons of benzene, aniline and nitrobenzene, together with fire fighting water, spilled into the No. 2 Songhua River.1 In order to dilute the pollutants’ concentration, the water flow from the upstream Fengman hydroelectric power station into the river was increased. As a result, the pollutants spread into an over 80 kilometre long pollution plume (no data was available on the concentration of these pollutants...

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