Update: Three employees had “significant responsibility” for Chinese chemicals plant explosion

Article by Amanda Jasi

THREE employees of Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical Company are said to have “significant responsibility” for an explosion at a Chinese chemicals plant, reports state news agency Xinhua. The explosion killed 78 people and injured more than 600. 

On 21 March at about 14:50 local time a Tianjiayi Chemical plant exploded at the  Chenjiagang Industrial Park, in Yancheng, Jiangsu province, eastern China. As of 2 April, 187 of those injured were still under hospital care, two of whom were in critical condition, says Xinhua.

Xinhua reports that on Wednesday local authorities said three employees had been put under “criminal coercive measures”. AFP reports that according the Chinese parliament’s website this indicates that the employees have been detained, arrested, or put under house arrest. Xinhua adds that in China criminal coercive measures may also include summons by force, bail, and residential surveillance.

According to a statement on the Yancheng government’s official Weibo account the employees were significantly responsible for the plant explosion, reports AFP. Sina Weibo is a Chinese social media platform. The Yangcheng police reportedly declined to offer details about the case when contacted by AFP.

The recent explosion isn’t the first indication of safety violations by Tianjiayi Chemical. Last year 13 safety violations were found at the same plant that has exploded, and the company has also been punished for environmental violations at the site. Tianjiayi Chemical has received fines and warnings for safety violations in the past, reports the South China Morning Post (SCMP) and there have previously been smaller explosions at Chenjiagang Industrial Park, one of which killed eight people.

Whilst the Tianjiayi Chemical plant incident is considered to be one of the worst in recent years, it is only one of the most recent in a series of industrial incidents in China.

Despite the Chinese government’s claim that it would crack down on industrial incidents following a major incident in 2015, these events continue to occur, much to the public’s dismay. In 2015 an explosion in Tianjin killed 165 people, injured 798 and left eight people missing. Last year 19 people were killed by another Chinese chemicals blast, and later a chemical gas leak caused an explosion in Zhangjiakou – set to be the location of the 2022 Winter Olympics - which killed 23 people.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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