Russia’s Amur River; photo by paukrus (Flickr Creative Commons)

China’s worst flooding in ten years has resulted in widespread problems including over 1,250 people dead or missing, thousands of homes destroyed and billions of euros in damage to infrastructure.

One of the latest worries is that around 7,000 barrels, some containing toxic chemicals, were swept into the Songhua River on Wednesday. Authorities in China claim that nearly 3,000 have been recovered, but whether the barrels were empty or full is unclear.

From a BBC News report:

It is a source of drinking-water for several million people and is being tested for possible contamination, but officials have said there is no sign that the chemicals have leaked into the water.

The Songhua is a major tributary to Russia’s Amur River. Russian authorities and media have expressed concerns that the toxic contents of the barrels could poison Russia’s drinking water.

From a Russia Today report:

Moscow is concerned about the possible consequences should the toxic material cross the border. But the Chinese side has said the authorities are taking all necessary measures, with several teams engaged in collecting barrels along the Songhuajiang river, Russia’s Emergency Ministry said.

China has constructed 8 barriers to stop the barrels from reaching Russian waters, but even if only a few barrels leak the environmental impact could be severe. Or if some barrels remain unrecovered, they could leak into the water sometime in the future.

Additional resources:

Greenpeace – Huge chemical spill in China

Pravda – Tons of Toxic Chemicals Flow from China to Russia