Skip to comments.China river contamination illustrates paralysis in crisis(system breakdown in crisis)
Posted on 12/08/2005 4:05:36 AM PST by TigerLikesRooster
China river contamination illustrates paralysis in crisis
By CHING CHING NI
Los Angeles Times
BEIJING - The long-term environmental impact of last month's chemical explosion in northern China that left millions of people without safe drinking water remains to be seen. But the political fallout has begun. Beijing sacked its top environmental official Friday in an effort to show accountability for the mishandling of the crisis. More heads are likely to roll, possibly including local party leaders in Jilin province where an accident at a petrochemical plant spilled 100 tons of benzene and other cancer-causing chemicals into the Songhua River.
Residents of Harbin, a city of 3.8 million people, were not informed about the contamination until 10 days later. The 50-mile-long toxic slick still is making its way downstream toward the Russian border, forcing more towns and villages along the way to shut off their taps and switch to bottled water.
Some observers say the Harbin water crisis illustrates the bigger problem of China's bureaucratic paralysis during emergencies. "This is a systemwide failure," said Jiang Wenran, acting director of the China Institute at the University of Alberta. "The system itself is not set up to respond quickly. At every level there was confusion and delay."
Xie Zhenhua, chief of the State Environmental Protection Administration since 1993, took the fall partly because he sat at the top of the chain of command.
Shortly before Xie's resignation was announced, his agency lashed out at Jilin officials for failing to report the disaster in a timely fashion. For about four days after the Nov. 13 explosion, the agency received no information on the accident, "losing the best opportunity (to control the pollution)," said Wang Yuqing, vice minister of the administration, according to the official China Daily.
According to Jiang, a Harbin native who has done extensive research on the incident, authorities in Jilin and Heilongjiang where Harbin is located, asked Beijing for directions on what to do next. The scale of the disaster was such that they had no authority to act independently of the central government.
"When the responsibility reached them, [SEPA officials] were not able to make a quick decision," said Jiang. "They were telling the Jilin and Heilongjiang officials to find some kind of excuses."
A day before it would be too late to warn the public to prepare for the shut off of the city's tap water supply, Harbin officials announced maintenance work on the pipes. What has been billed as a "well-intentioned lie" helped set off panic, prompting skeptical residents to hoard bottled water and, in some cases, flee the city. The coverup ended only after Premier Wen Jiabao intervened and said the public must be told the truth, according to Jiang. When Wen became aware of the contamination remains unclear.
This RfD is 0.0165 grams per day for a 150 pound person. 0.0165 grams This is 0.0165/1.0000 as much mass as two maximum strength Tylenol, roughly 1/64 of the mass of two Tylenol.
Seems we will have tens of millions of sick Chinese in Manchuria. The disaster had only begun. Thanks for your info.
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