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City rushes water plant into action
Updated: 2005-12-06 19:13

On Friday, the Jiamusi city government shut down parts of its No. 7 Water Plant, which is near the river, in order to avoid contamination, saying the plant draws on ground water wells but is located near the river.

Four of the plant's wells closest to the river have been shut, said its general manager, Wang Li. It was still using three wells that were up to two miles from the river's banks, he said.

"It will be hard for the contamination to get into the ground water, but we will keep testing," Wang said.

The plant usually supplies up to 80 percent of Jiamusi's running water, or 34 million gallons a day. On Tuesday, it was pumping only 5 million to 8 million gallons because of the partial shutdown, Wang said.

The new Jiangbei Water Source, which is farther from the river than the old plant, is capable of producing 26 million gallons of water per day, the Jiamusi Daily said.

The city government has ordered several thousand villagers living near the Songhua to stop using shallow ground water wells, but says running water to the rest of the city should continue functioning normally and there were no plans to close schools.

The director of China's environmental protection agency has resigned to take the blame for the spill, and the general manager and two other employees of the company that owns the plant have been removed from their posts.

There has been no indication that leaders, who are accused of initially trying to conceal the spill, might face punishment.

The spill is expected to cross the Russian border on Dec. 13.

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