Update: Criminal measures taken against 26 following fatal Chinese chemicals explosion

Article by Amanda Jasi

LOCAL authorities in China have taken “criminal coercive measures” against 26 people following a chemical plant explosion that killed 78 people and injured more than 600, reports state news agency Xinhua.

The plant, which exploded at about 14:50 local time on 21 March, was owned by Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical Company. It was located in Chenjiagang Industrial Park, in Yancheng, Jiangsu province, eastern China. The blast from the explosion damaged nearby buildings and vehicles. The Tianjiayi Chemical plant itself was flattened. 

Reportedly, those facing criminal coercive measures for their roles in the explosion are employees of Tianjiayi Chemical, as well as its controlling shareholder Nijiaxiang Group, and organisations suspected of providing Tianjiayi Chemical with false evaluations for its projects. In China, criminal coercive measures include detainment, arrest, house arrest, residential surveillance, summons by force, and bail.

According to Xinhua, local authorities said that the Chenjiagang Industrial Park was to be closed.

In Yancheng, the Chief of the Communist Party in the city, Dai Yuan, ordered the chemical sector to “rectify practice and adopt high safety standards”, adds Xinhua.

Following the recent explosion, experts have been tasked with ramping up efforts to move hazardous chemical plants away from densely-populated areas, reports news provider China Daily. According to the report, China plans to correct, relocate, or close hazardous chemical plants located too close to residential areas, by 2025.

The recent incident is not the first indication of safety violations by Tianjiayi Chemical, or at Chenjiagang Industrial Park. Last year, 13 types of safety hazards were found at Tianjiayi Chemical and the company has received fines and warnings for safety violations in the past. And, in past there have been small explosions at Chenjiagang Industrial Park. One such explosion in 2007 killed eight people.

The incident at a Tianjiayi Chemical plant is one of the most recent in a series of industrial incidents in China. For example, last year a blast caused by a chemical gas leak killed 23 people and another blast at a chemicals plant killed 19 people. Even more recently, on 24 April, three people were killed and five were injured in an explosion at a plant in China’s Inner Mongolia region.

In 2015 an industrial explosion in Tianjin killed 165 people, injured 798, and left eight people missing. After that the Chinese government claimed it would crack down on industrial incidents, yet these incidents continue to occur, much to the public’s dismay. 

Polluted water

Following the Tianjiayi Chemical explosion, waterways in Chenjiagang Industrial Park were polluted. Previously, it was reported that authorities had developed a preliminary plan for treating water that was polluted following the explosion.

On 30 March Xinhua reported that 18,000 m3 of acidic wastewater from a pit formed by the explosion was transported to nearby sewage treatment facilities. Additionally, acidic pollutants at the bottom of the pit were to be neutralised and solidified with lime.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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