AT LEAST four people have been killed by an explosion at a 600,000 t/y methylene di-phenylene isocyanate (MDI) unit owned by Wanhua Chemical in Yantai, China, the company said in a statement seen by ICIS.
According to the statement, the incident occurred on Wednesday when the company was shutting down the plant for scheduled maintenance. The explosion hospitalised a total of eight people, with four of them dying of their injuries.
The scheduled month-long maintenance at the unit will likely be extended, a company source told ICIS, and further details will only be confirmed after the incident investigations are complete.
Wanhua Chemical’s 750,000 t/y propane dehydrogenation (PDH) and 240,000 t/y propylene oxide (PO) 800,000 t/y methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) production in Yantai were not affected, another company source told ICIS.
China has suffered a series of chemicals-related explosions in recent times, most notably the August 2015 Tianjin blast that killed a total of 165 people. Nine workers were killed in an explosion at a chemical plant in Shandong Province in October 2015, and 21 were killed at a coal power station explosion last month.
Greenpeace said in a statement today that the incident in Yantai now adds to a total of 232 chemicals-related incidents that have occurred in China this year from January to August, an average of 29 per month. The environmental group says the incidents have caused a total of 199 deaths and 400 injuries.
The group’s data shows 43% of incidents are due to leaks, 27% are caused by fire and explosions and 16% are due to accidents. The data also shows that 52% of accidents occur during transportation of chemicals, while 27% occur during production.
Cheng Qian, spokesperson for Greenpeace East Asia, said: “China's chemicals industry is the largest in the world, but it is appallingly under-regulated. Tragic accidents occur on an almost daily basis. The government must take urgent action to manage chemicals in a sound manner.”
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