China to Spend $3.3 Billion on Songhua River Cleanup
BEIJING China has earmarked 26.6 billion yuan ($3.3 bln) to make water from its recently poisoned Songhua river drinkable by 2010, the Beijing Youth Daily reported on Sunday.
The funds, allocated as part of China's five-year plan for 2006-2010, would be used to treat around 1.4 billion tonnes of waste water a year in Inner Mongolia and Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces, through which the Songhua flows, it said.
China aimed to provide safe drinking water for more than 90 percent of people living close to the river by 2010, it cited the State Administration of Environmental Protection as saying.
Treatment of Songhua river water would benefit an estimated 62.5 million people, it said.
The Songhua was poisoned late last year after an explosion at a chemical plant in northeastern China unleashed a toxic spill which contaminated the drinking supplies of millions of people and raised alarm bells in nearby Russia.
The Songhua feeds into the Heilong river, known in Russia as the Amur.
The Beijing News reported, meanwhile, that cadmium poisoning in a tributary of the Yangtze river in central China had threatened tap water supplies in the cities of Xiangtan, Zhuzhou and Changsha.
The cadmium was released into the Xiangjiang river in Hunan province on Jan. 5 as a local company was shifting silt from a river bed.
The official Xinhua news agency said in the early hours of Sunday that authorities had taken steps to deal with the incident and water quality in the three cities was normal.
An estimated 70 percent of China's rivers are contaminated by pollution, raising serious questions about the cost of the country's economic boom.