More than a week after two massive explosions at a chemical warehouse tore into the northeastern Chinese port of Tianjin, officials are still trying to work out how safe is the city’s air, its earth and its water.
The explosions began inside a warehouse that was storing at least 2,500 tons of hazardous chemicals, including sodium cyanide, ammonium nitrate, and potassium nitrate.
State media reports denied that the deaths were a result of cyanide poisoned despite officials admitting that cyanide levels in water close to the accident scene were 356 times higher than the national acceptable limit.
But there’s another gross side effect of the blast that has been found in a nearby waterway: thousands of dead fish washing up on the shore.
Beijing has also announced it will begin auditing all companies that handle unsafe substances across the country, targeting industries related to chemicals, explosives, fireworks, elevators, non-coal mines, public transportation and ports.
Environmental monitoring experts have detected some cyanide compounds in seawater from five monitoring stations near the blast zone, but they are in the normal range compared with the average level in past years, Deng said.
At least 114 people were killed and hundreds of others were injured in last week’s explosions, which were so powerful that “cars melted and homes crumbled”.
Training in the handling of such materials and in executing emergency response plans will also be stepped up, the newspaper said.
China has become the world’s largest producer and consumer of chemicals used in industries such as automotive, construction and textiles on the back of its decades-long economic boom.
As residents continue to demand answers and compensation for their damaged property, Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed to thoroughly investigate the disaster.
A report by Xinhua news agency, for which Dong and Yu were interviewed about “false ownership”, suggested that licensing for the warehouse may have been obtained through connections and consulting with several safety inspection company until approval was obtained.
It said in a statement on Thursday that advanced equipment and the best expertise needed to be used to prevent major environmental incidents in the future.
The explosions at a hazardous goods storage facility on August 12 triggered a giant fireball and new fires broke out as recent as yesterday.