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Workers rush to retrieve 3,000 chemical-filled barrels in NE China river

07-30-2010 09:34 BJT Special Report:China Fights Worst Flood in Decades |

CHANGCHUN/HARBIN, July 29 (Xinhua) -- Workers were racing Thursday to retrieve the 3,000 chemical-filled barrels that were swept by floods into the Songhua River running through northeast China's Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces.

Workers retrieve a chemical container from the Songhua River at the Wukeshu Dock in Yushu City, northeast China's Jilin Province, July 29, 2010. More than 7,000 chemical containers were washed into the Songhua River by rain-triggered floods in Yongji County on Wednesday. About 3,000 of the barrels contained 170 kilograms of chemicals each and the rest were empty. About 1,100 barrels had been recovered as of Thursday afternoon. (Xinhua/Zhou Changqing)
Workers retrieve a chemical container from the Songhua River at the Wukeshu Dock in 
Yushu City, northeast China's Jilin Province, July 29, 2010. More than 7,000 chemical 
containers were washed into the Songhua River by rain-triggered floods in Yongji 
County on Wednesday. About 3,000 of the barrels contained 170 kilograms of chemicals 
each and the rest were empty. About 1,100 barrels had been recovered as of Thursday 
afternoon. (Xinhua/Zhou Changqing)
Each barrel contains 170 kilograms of flammable chemical liquid, according to a press conference held by the Jilin city government Thursday. Another 4,000 empty barrels also were floating in the river.

"The barrels are well-sealed," Wang Mingchen, deputy secretary-general of the Jilin city government, said at the press conference.

There had been fears that if the chemicals leaked due to barrel damage or explosions, the water in the Songhua River, a major drinking water source of tens of millions of people in the two provinces, would be contaminated.

However, Ministry of Environmental Protection spokesman Tao Detian said Thursday that a water test conducted early Thursday morning showed the river water was not contaminated.

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