Stricter control on industry
Toxic chemicals leaked into the Songhua River from a chemical factory warehouse near Jilin city in northeast mainland last month. The leakage was made worse by floodwaters.
More than 1,000 barrels, containing at least 160 tonnes of liquid chlorotrimethylsilane, were washed down the river.
The provincial government said chlorotrimethylsilane was highly toxic and could burn the skin and irritate the lungs. When mixed with water the chemical reacts to produce hydrochloric acid, which in concentrated form can burn the lungs, skin and eyes.
Although an official said at the weekend that almost all the chemical barrels had been recovered, it still created panic and pollution.
Residents had to fight for bottled water as supplies to parts of the city of 4.3 million people were cut off.
I think the central government has to impose stricter controls over industries so such incidents will not happen again. It is important to protect people's health.
Tam Siu-ting, POCA Wong Siu Ching Secondary School
From the Editor
Thank you for your letter, Siu-ting. Industrial pollution is a by-product of the industrial age. As the mainland rushes to grab whatever it can in terms of market share, and changes into a more industrialised society, these sorts of terrible things are bound to happen. While it is easy to point a finger at the government and expect it to clean up its act, the reality is that China is a huge country and, as the saying goes, the mountains are high and the emperor is far away.
While people are underpaid and desperate, or just greedy, they will do whatever it takes to earn a living. What is needed, apart from the obvious social security, is a mind shift into more responsibility on the part of citizens.