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August 27, 2009

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Pristine river targeted

NORTHEAST China's Jilin Province would have sewage-treatment plants in all 36 counties along the Songhua River by the end of next year, environmaaental authorities said yesterday.

The plants would be capable of treating 1.46 million tons of sewage a day, which would "well cope" with the needs of people living along the river, said Wang Guocai, director of the provincial department of environmental protection.

The plants are part of a pollution-control plan in the Songhua River Basin, which includes 86 projects with a combined investment of 5 billion yuan (US$737.6 million) between 2006 and 2010.

Jilin authorities are considering the investment of another 11.2 billion yuan to control basin pollution.

The provincial department of environmental protection has tightened environmental protection in the basin. Since 2007, 316 plants had been closed and 513 others ordered to suspend production until they had dealt with pollution problems, Wang said.

The Songhua River was seriously polluted when 100 tons of benzene-related chemicals flowed into it after a chemical plant explosion in Jilin City in 2005.

This forced Harbin, capital of Jilin's neighboring Heilongjiang Province, to temporarily suspend water supply to 3.8 million people.

It also raised concerns in Russia as the river empties into the Heilongjiang River dividing China and Russia.


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