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Russia: Chemical leak in northeast China kills 3, but does not pose environmental threat

Russia: Chemical leak in northeast China kills 3, but does not pose environmental threat

A chemical leak in China's northeast killed three people, but the accident was contained and did not pose an environmental threat, Russian authorities said Friday.
The leak in Qiqihaer city of Heilongjiang province one day earlier had prompted alarmed officials in neighboring Russia to order continuous monitoring of air and water quality.
Qiqihaer is 250 miles (402 kilometers) from the Russian border and lies along a major tributary of the Songhua River, which flows into Russia.
Russia's Foreign Ministry said three people were killed and eight sickened when phosgene gas leaked from a canister that was being dismantled at a plant in Qiqihaer. The canister and other similar canisters were quickly destroyed, it said.
The ministry said it had received the information from the Chinese environment protection ministry, which had not posted the information on its Web site as of early Saturday. China's official Xinhua News Agency had only a short report with few details. Telephones at the local police department rang unanswered.
Chinese authorities reported no environmental damage after checking air and soil samples around the accident site, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Phosgene is a colorless, volatile liquid which is highly poisonous. It is used as poison gas, in organic synthesis and in making dyes.
Laboratories on the China-Russia border had been regularly testing air and water quality after Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered "permanent monitoring" of the situation, the Interfax news agency said.
A 2005 chemical spill in the Songhua strained China-Russia relations after poisoned water flowed across the border. The spill included potentially cancer-causing chemicals and forced the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin to sever water supplies to 3.8 million people for five days.


Updated : 2021-08-05 12:51 GMT+08:00