Chinese authorities are closely monitoring radiation levels in areas that border the site in North Korea where the isolated Communist regime carried out its third nuclear test earlier this week.
North Korea conducted the nuclear test on Tuesday in Kilju County, North Hamkyung province, less than 100 kilometers from the Chinese border, triggering an artificial earthquake of 4.9 magnitude.
Though no panic reaction has been reported from China’s Jilin province, geographically closest to the test site, residents, according to the state media, have raised environment and health concerns following the blast.
Residents in the Hunchun area of Jilin province, according to the Global Times newspaper, felt the ground beneath their feet tremble at the time North Korea conducted the test; the tremor lasted for about a minute.
“We heard the news of the nuclear test in North Korea, but people are living their lives normally here,” Xu Liang, a resident from Yanji in Jilin Province, told the Global Times. He added that local residents were paying close attention to the results of monitoring by China's environmental watchdog.
Following the test – China was informed about the test ahead of the blast – Beijing put in place an emergency monitoring plan. At least 150 monitoring stations nation-wide are now working around the clock to collect air samples.
Experts were dispatched to northeast China, to study and analyse radiation levels. According to environmental departments, results so far show no signs of radiation in the region.
“No signs of artificial radioactivity were detected in Northeast China as of 11am on Friday, according to the ministry's Friday statement, and real-time monitoring results from more than 150 radiation monitoring stations across China also showed radiation at a normal level,” news agency Xinhua reported.
The South Korean Yonhap news agency quoted statistics released from Germany’s Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources as saying that the equivalent of 40 thousand tons of TNT had been released by the DPRK’s third nuclear test.
The Institute said isotopes usually can be detected several hours or days after a nuclear blast, but this time, the detection may take several days or even weeks.