The front of the pollution slick on northeast China's Songhua River is expected to arrive at Jiamusi city, downstream from Harbin, which just passed a four-day water crisis, on Saturday, local environment authorities said Tuesday.
The 80-km-long toxic spill resulted from a blast at an upstream Jilin Petrochemical Company chemical plant under the China National Petroleum Corp on Nov. 13 in Jilin, Jilin Province.
Experts estimated that around 100 tons of pollutants containing benzene flew into the Songhua River, which supplies the most water to Harbin, capital of neighboring Heilongjiang Province.
Jiamusi, the second largest city with a population of more than 2 million in Heilongjiang, relies on groundwater 50 to 70 meters deep for drinking water.
The city has started an emergency plan to monitor the water quality of the Songhua River.
Harbin, a city of 3.8 million people, was forced to shut down its water supply system from the early morning last Wednesday to 6 p.m. of last Sunday.
By Tuesday, the water supply in most parts of the city had become normal and met drinking standards.
Benzene is a clear, colorless, highly refractive flammable liquid derived from petroleum and used in or to manufacture a wide variety of chemical products, including detergents, insecticides, and motor fuels.