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3 Executives Sacked over Jilin Chemical Blast

China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has sacked three bosses, holding them responsible for the explosion at its Jilin Petroleum and Chemical Company that led to a severe chemical spill into the Songhua River, according to a Xinhua News Agency report yesterday.

The blast on November 13 caused about 100 tons of pollutants, mainly hazardous benzene and its derivatives, to leak into the Songhua River.

According to the report, Jiang Jiemin, vice president and deputy secretary of the Leading Group of CNPC Communist Party of China (CPC) Committee, announced last Sunday that three people had been dismissed.

Yu Li, manager of the Jilin company, was removed from his position and will be investigated by the working teams from the State Council and Jilin Province. Shen Dian, former manager of CNPC's Liaoyang branch, was appointed as his successor.

Jiang also ordered the sacking of Shen Dongming, director of the plant where the blast occurred, and Wang Fang, superintendent of the benzene workshop.

Jiang said that the blast had caused "severe water and environmental pollution" that "greatly affects the lives and economic development of communities living along the river."

He added the pollution incident had "aroused huge attention from the international community and tarnished the overall image of CNPC."

Jiang, however, went on to praise Yu's achievement in saving the Jilin company from deficit during his three years' management and his efforts after the blast to try to limit the number of casualties.

In related news, officials in Jiamusi, which is located downstream from the Songhua River, say they are fully prepared for the forthcoming toxic slick expected to reach the city today.

"We can ensure the sufficient safe water supply, even if the slick arrives," said Zhang Bangsheng, vice mayor of the city, which has an urban population of 550,000.

The city mainly relies on underground water as its drinking water source, so the slick should have little effect on this, he said.

Jiamusi's No.7 Water Plant, which provides about 70 percent of the water supply of the city, has stopped drawing water from the wells that are near the river bank because of concern over possible water infiltration when the slick passes.

The city has already activated its back-up water source on the northern bank of the river, which can supply 100,000 tons of water daily, said Dong Kun, the government spokesperson.

"We have enough water to cope with the crisis," she said.

She admitted, however, that it is possible some of the enterprises within the city that have high water consumption levels, might be ordered to temporarily suspend or reduce production.

(China Daily December 6, 2005)

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