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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chemical Plant Fined $128,000

BEIJING -- A chemical plant in northeast China has been fined 1 million yuan ($128,000) in connection with one of the country's worst toxic spills that cut off water to millions of Chinese and Russians, state media said Thursday.

A Nov. 13, 2005, explosion at the plant in the city of Jilin discharged tons of benzene and other dangerous chemicals into the Songhua River, which flows downstream into the major city of Harbin in a neighboring province and the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk.

China's Cabinet "considers it a major pollution incident" and the State Environmental Protection Agency has fined the plant 1 million yuan, the official Xinhua News Agency said on its web site.

No other details were given but it is the highest fine possible under environmental protection laws, the report said.

The plant is operated by a subsidiary of China's biggest oil company, state-owned China National Petroleum Corp.

A Cabinet investigation showed the explosion was caused by negligence and a failure to observe regulations on the plant's operations. It killed eight people and forced 10,000 more to flee their homes.