Russia in protest over China's silence on chemical spill

Other News Materials 6 June 2008 20:25 (UTC +04:00)

Russia sounded a noted of protest over being kept in the dark Friday after toxic spillage from a Chinese plant risked seeping across the border to Russia, reported dpa.

At least three people have died from the chemical leak at a Chinese plant on the border with Russian, the ministry of natural resources cited Chinese media as saying.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Friday questioned the head of Russia's Emergency Defence Ministry whether adequate monitoring was being set up and "if there was need for the Defence Ministry's aid," news agency Interfax reported.

Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu said monitoring had been set up on the border after the news raised fears of repeat ecological disaster on the scale of a November 2005 spillage that polluted vast swaths of Russia's Far East.

More than 100 tonnes of chemicals then leaked into the Amur River carrying huge toxic slicks North to Russia, but China delayed informing Russia of the incident for several days.

Russia's Natural Resources Ministry sent a letter of protest to China over the chemical accident Friday.

"The Chinese side has not yet disclosed what chemical agents leaked," deputy minister Oleg Mitvol said Friday, adding that it was too soon to assess the damage to Russia.

But he added that the spill had occurred near the city of Qiqihaer, some 400 kilometers from the Russian border.