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29 Jul, 2010 07:05

3,000 Chinese barrels of explosives a threat to Russia

Containers of an explosive liquid from a chemical plant in northern China have been washed into a river. If the chemical leaks, it may cause an environmental disaster both in China and Russia. at tubs.

The barrels, numbering at least 3,000, contain liquefied methyl chloride – a toxic and highly-flammable gas.

Each barrel can hold 170 kilos of the dangerous chemical, Chinese news agency Xinhua reports. The plant, located in Jilin City, Yongji County, also lost about 4,000 empty barrels.

The barrels have been washed into the Songhuajiang River due to heavy rainfalls. Since the river flows into the Amur River, which runs north through the Russian territory, there is a major environmental risk for Russia’s Far East.

Russia’s Emergencies Ministry said it is monitoring the situation and so far no sign of contamination has been detected.

The danger posed to Russia's Far East is not being exaggerated, Lada Progunova from the World Wide Fund for Nature said.

“One of the substances in the barrels is a poison that can cause burns to eyes and skin.
It is stable in dry form, but when it comes into contact with moisture it becomes very dangerous. So if it gets into the water, it cannot be used without purification. And more than a million people in Russia’s Far East depend on the water from the Amur river. But so far there have been no reports of any leak from the barrels,”
Progunova said.

Meanwhile, Chinese rescue services are trying to recover the dangerous containers. So far, 400 of the total 7,000 lost barrels have been retrieved.

Similar industrial accidents happened before and exchanging information with the Chinese authorities was a big challenge for Russia, says journalist Dmitry Babich from Russia Profile magazine. “The Chinese government is unwilling to share information with its own citizens and with Russia authorities, also,” he said.