The Songhua River (also Haixi or Xingal, formerly Sunggari) is one of the primary rivers of China, and the largest tributary of the Amur River. It flows about 1,434 kilometres (891 mi) from the Changbai Mountains on the China–North Korea border through China's northeastern Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces. The river drains 557,180 square kilometres (215,130 sq mi) of land, and has an annual discharge of 2,463 cubic metres per second (87,000 cu ft/s).
The extreme flatness of the Northeast China Plain has caused the river to meander widely over time. The result of the meandering is that the river is surrounded by a wide plain that is filled with swirls and curves, showing paths the river once took.
As the Second Songhua River, it joins the Amur at Tongjiang, Heilongjiang. It is then interrupted by the Baishan, Hongshi and Fengman dams, which are used for hydroelectricity production. Fengman Dam forms a lake that stretches 62 kilometres (39 mi) upstream. Below the dam, the Second Songhua flows northwest until its largest tributary, the Nen River, joins it near Da'an and creates the Songhua. The Nen River drains the Songnen Plain. The river travels east until it joins the Hulan River near Harbin. Nearby it is also joined by the Ashi, which gave its name to the Jurchen Jin Dynasty (12th–13th century). Then it passes between the northern end of the eastern Manchurian mountain system and the Lesser Xing'an Range. The river then flows into the Amur River (Heilong Jiang) valley. The river freezes from late November until March. It has its highest flows when the mountain snow melts during the spring thaw. The river is navigable up to Harbin by medium-sized ships. Smaller craft can navigate the Songhua up to Jilin and the Nen River up to Qiqihar.
Cities along the river include:
In November 2005, the river was contaminated with benzene, leading to a shutdown of Harbin's water supply. The spill stretched 80 kilometres (50 mi) and eventually reached the Amur (Heilong) River on the China–Russia border. On July 28, 2010, several thousand barrels were washed away by floods from two chemical plants in China's Jilin City. Some of them contained 170 kilograms (370 lb) of explosive material like trimethylsilyl chloride and hexamethyldisiloxane. In 2016, the part near the city of Jilin was affected by a minor flood.
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