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Dam to shield Russia from river slick

BEIJING: China is damming a waterway in its northeast in an effort to reduce the impact of a river-borne toxic spill flowing toward a city in Russia's Far East, the Government said on Saturday.

Work began on Friday to dam the waterway along the Heilong river, which is carrying the spill toward Khabarovsk, a city of 480,000 people, the official Xinhua news agency said. The waterway links the Heilong to the Wusuli river, which also supplies water to Khabarovsk, and authorities hope to shield it from pollution.

The dam is the latest Chinese effort to repair strains with Russia over the slick caused by a November 13 chemical plant explosion that has disrupted water supplies to millions of people in China.

``The temporary dam will be removed after the pollutant slick passes Khabarovsk along the Heilong river,'' Xinhua said. ``China will bear the cost for the construction and demolition of the dam.''

The spill of 100 tonnes of benzene, nitrobenzene and other toxins was spewed into the Songhua river, which flows into the Heilong. Russia has built a dam on another waterway linked to the Heilong near Khabarovsk to move the slick past the city more quickly and protect nearby wetlands. — AP

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