Pollution from November spill in China still taints downstream waterways

Months after a factory explosion in China dumped benzene and other chemicals into the Songhua River, thawing ice is releasing a second wave of toxins into downstream waterways near Khabarovsk, Russia. More than half a million residents of the city have been advised not to drink their strongly chemical-smelling tap water. A similar warning has gone out to 40,000 villagers in Changqi in southern China, where wastewater from a chemical factory polluted a five-mile stretch of the Sancha River this weekend. According to China’s chief environmental regulator, there have been 76 environmental accidents in the country since November, or an average of one every two days. Pollution from such accidents has strained relations with neighboring Russia and caused civil unrest at home. Responding to concerns, China passed a law on Saturday that bans discharge of sewage and chemical wastes into agricultural areas.