August 24th, 2012 | Global Times Russians concerned over tainted border rivers
A Chinese water quality monitoring official said on Thursday that a shared border river between China and Russia remains at the same level of pollution as when monitoring began, after a Russian news report said the pollution has become a critical problem.
“We have been monitoring the water quality since 2007,” He Hua, the deputy director of Water Quality Monitoring Station at Jixi, Heilongjiang Province, who oversees the inspection of the Songacha River, told the Global Times, “The pollution level of the river hasn’t changed much.”
A report by RIA Novosti said on Wednesday that the annual inspection of the two boundary rivers, the Suifen (known as the Razdolnaya in Russian) and the Songacha, held by environmental protection officials from Russia and China, was initiated to assess water quality and the local ecosystem.
Russian ecologists claim that pollution in trans-boundary rivers has become a critical problem due to China’s economic boom.
According to RIA Novosti, the amount of industrial waste and sewage runoff from China’s Heilongjiang Province pouring into the Amur River has exceeded 11 billion cubic meters since 2007.
A 2008 news report from RIA Novosti stated that the Russian experts have listed the Songacha River as severely polluted since the volume of trichlorophenol, a toxic chemical, found in the 2007 water sample had reached critical levels.
He Hua told the Global Times that the inspection of the Songacha River started in 2007 and both sides agreed to test water quality twice a year.
In 2009, the number of annual inspections increased to three. He said the data gained from sampling water from three locations on the Longwangmiao section of the Songacha River will be submitted to the China National Environmental Monitoring Center to study.
Zhang Jianrong, a professor of Russian Studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that this was not the first time Russian media has expressed concerns over environmental issues in the border area.
“Russia takes pollution very seriously,” said Zhang, “and China needs to respect that. Unfortunately, we are not doing our best in pollution prevention measures.”
Zhang said China needs to put more effort into environmental protection before the problem escalates into a greater dispute.
“Some of the conflicts may come from the evaluation system each country implements. Russia may have adopted stricter water quality standard,” added Zhang.
By Xie Yahong in Moscow and Bai Tiantian in Beijing