The waters of a polluted Chinese tributary of Russia's Amur River will reach the Russian border on August 4, Russian emergencies officials said on Thursday.
Severe floods washed 3,000 barrels of explosive chemicals into the Songhua River in the Northeast Chinese province of Jilin early on Wednesday, according to Xinhua news agency. The river is the main source of drinking water for Jilin, the province's second-largest city.
Earlier on Thursday it was reported that 1,000 barrels containing methyl chloride, an extremely flammable gas, had washed into the river. An additional 4,000 empty barrels have also been washed downstream.
Russia fears the chemicals may contaminate the Amur River, which feeds water to the Russian Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk.
Rescue teams are working to retrieve the barrels. Around 400 barrels have been recovered so far, state media said.
No chemicals have yet been found in the water, local officials said.
Ecologists are working around the clock to prevent any possible environmental damage, the Chinese Environmental Protection Ministry said.
The Russian sanitary watchdog said there was "no deviation from the norm" in the water quality.
The barrels washed away from the storage facilities of two chemical plants held over 160 metric tons of methyl chloride.
In November 2005, an explosion at a plant owned by the Jilin Petroleum and Chemical Company caused 100 tons of potentially lethal benzene to spill into the Songhua River. The incident forced the shut-down of water supplies to nearly 4 million people. The spillage caused substantial environmental damage in the Russian Far East, as a huge slick of chemicals was carried down the Amur.
MOSCOW, July 29 (RIA Novosti)