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Russia: Toxicity Level of Chemical Slick in Amur Still Acceptable

Russian officials say the pollution level in the Amur River remains at acceptable levels, despite a massive toxic chemical spill from China that passed through earlier this week.

Officials say the concentration of nitrobenzene at key water intakes to the far-eastern city of Khabarovsk is lower than the maximum permissible. The same is true at the city's water pumping and purification plants. Officials have declared the water safe for consumption.

Water was cut off in several nearby villages as the chemical slick approached.

Russia's Itar-Tass news agency quotes officials as saying that authorities will now concentrate on assuring the safety of water for towns downstream. These include Amursk and Komsomolsk-on-Amur, which the slick is expected to reach early next month.

A November chemical plant explosion in neighboring China released large quantities of the toxic chemical benzene into a tributary of the Amur River.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.