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China Conducts River Pollution Emergency Exercise

China's environmental watchdog and the Jilin local government jointly conducted a computer simulation of a river pollution emergency on Monday.

Using a geographic information system (GIS), an explosion was simulated at a chemical plant in Jiutia City of Jilin Province and ten tons of pollutants spilled into the Songhua River in an apparent bid to right the wrongs of a real-life incident two years ago.

In November 2005, 100 tons of polluted waste containing benzene spilled into the Songhua River after a chemical plant explosion in Jilin. The incident forced cities along the river, including Heilongjiang's provincial capital Harbin, to cut water supplies to 3.8 million people for four days.

This time, albeit digitally, the chemical plant immediately stopped production, began the repair work and reported the accident to the local government, which lead to the incident being resolved.

Zhou Shengxian, director of the State Environmental Protection Administration, said more exercises should be held in order to help relevant departments become familiar with the emergency response plan, work out improved measures to deal with similar incidents and enhance cooperation between government departments.

(Xinhua News Agency November 27, 2007)

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