On April 7, Paul Goble, a U.S.-based expert on Eurasia who writes for The Jamestown Foundation in Washington, provided details of what could prove to be one of the biggest industrial accidents in recent Chinese history. Goble said that so far the Chinese have responded in the same way that they did to the coronavirus outbreak in the city of Wuhan. “Officials have downplayed the threat both locally and at the national level, suggesting that they have already contained the problem,” Goble said.
But hundreds of Chinese specialists were reported to be on their way to the region and appear to be considering measures that they took in November, 2005, following a similar industrial spill from the same mine processing plant. At that time, they built a dam to prevent rare earth metals spilled into the river from moving downstream toward the Chinese city of Harbin.