The Songhua River forms the biggest river system in North East China. It flows over 200 kilometres through Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces before entering Russia, providing over 62 million people with drinking water.
Over the past few years of rapid economic development, several industries have come up along Songhua’s banks, discharging effluents and polluting its waters. In November 2005, an industrial accident at a petrochemical factory in Jilin City released a large amount of toxic material in the river.
While that was an unfortunate accident, it proved to be a flash point that got politicians’ and policymakers’ attention. Since then, strict conditions have been imposed upon industries along the Songhua River to make sure that they treat effluents before releasing in its waters.