Radiation Reported in China’s Heilongjiang Province

Thus reports China Daily, stating that radiation has been found in the water in Fuyuan county [抚远县], which is China’s easternmost point in the northeastern most province, very close to the Russian frontier.

On March 22, the PRC Environmental Protection Agency [环境保护部/Huanjing baohu bu ] had reported no evidence of Fukushima radiation in Heilongjiang province.

Checking radiation in the late March snows of Heilongjiang, courtesy China's EPA

The irony is that Fuyuan was supposed to have been the site of a major wind power project (sponsored by this Austrian company) which is currently on hold for lack of investment.

According to the PRC Environmental Ministry (via Huanqiu Shibao), radiation levels in the area are within acceptable limits and no precautions need be taken, at least not yet.  Getting far more attention in China — certainly driven by the dense urban populations there, as opposed to sparse and peripheral northeastern Dongbei — are these daily radiation readings in Zhejiang and Shanghai.

China’s EPA website has a fair amount of information about the situation in and around Japan.   (The page crashed the first two times I tried to load it, indicating that, just maybe, a few million Chinese surfers are trying to look at the same thing.)  As for the Fuyuan problem, the Heilongjiang branch of the Chinese EPA seems to be counseling calm while exemplifying provincial powerlessness without central stimulation; the main feature on its page is of an employee banging on some drums and singing patriotic songs. The site has an impressive set of links, but none of them appears to be about Fuyuan county’s current problem.  Does this strike anyone else as a strategic weakness in the PRC’s ability to mobilize and inform?  So what if the provincial EPA has investigating pollution in the Songhua River?  This is old news!

Mudanjiang, another small eastern city in Heilongjiang, has some commercial and tourism ties with North Korea.  Do you suppose that it’s only a matter of time before  rumors are floating into North Korea about radiation moving west?  The North Korean media has been reporting on the nuclear crisis in Japan in sporadic but unmistakable terms.  Who cares if North Korea is using environmental issues as an excuse to talk?  Just start talking, people!

A few final points:

If you need a Chinese-language fix of the latest television reports about Japan, start with this CCTV report on the basic layout of Japan’s nuclear plants.

If you’re an Anglophone (or an environmentally-inclined Anglophile) looking for a fantastic, mind-altering, and all-too-relevant book to read, try Brett Walker’s new Toxic Archipelago, published in Seattle at the University of Washington Press.  And keep your eyes on this space for more analysis of Walker’s paradigm-busting monograph, because it’s worth all of our time.

This morning I had a student come into my office and ask to write a paper about the Sino-Japanese textbook controversy and I told her to forget it.  Maybe both China and Japan, eyes on the widening Geiger counter, can do the same.


  1. Excellent advice to the student. On target and future thinking post in contrast the recycling epidemic afflicting other sites. Imagine a Brett Walker autopsy on similar bio-environmental symbiosis facing China, Russia or Italy.

    Could this explain some of the ‘stranger’ sub-group social behaviours which have emerged in Japan in recent decades?

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