Petro-Chemical Explosion

These factories are dangerous, like many factories in China, and it shouldn’t be like this.  China gets a lot of heat (no pun intended) because of unsafe buildings and poor safety measures.  This article from CNN will show you that the petro-chemical explosion in Tianjin isn’t the only one in the last year with an accident.  According to the article, “There are producers who are known to cut corners, in terms of regulation.”  Living in the West, this holds true about Chinese contractors which makes them more untrustworthy.  Chinese people can make a lot of things happen, and some do cut corners, but the ones with a conscience wouldn’t do this or wouldn’t risk safety for money.  Things like this isn’t worth the money.

Visit the source for several videos (one of which is at the end where families demand answers for the blasts) and plenty more images.  Proceed with some caution since CNN has updated their terms and conditions – pop-up at the bottom left of the screen.

Tianjin blasts: Another of China’s ‘profound lessons’

(CNN)Apocalyptic scenes of the smoldering aftermath of successive explosions in Tianjin have once again illustrated the dangers of Chinese industry.

Lax safety procedures and oversight have been blamed for the blasts, which have killed more than 100 people and sent toxic fumes into the air, threatening even greater devastation.

President Xi Jinping has urged authorities to learn from the “extremely profound” lessons from the accident.

The State Council is rolling out a nationwide inspection of all businesses using dangerous chemicals and explosives. Meanwhile, China’s public security minister says those found to be responsible for the Tianjin disaster “will be punished severely,” according to state news agency Xinhua.

The problem is China has seen and heard it all before, and the accidents keep coming, though figures from the Bureau of Statistics suggest that the rate of lethal accidents is falling.

What the figures show

In 2014, 68,061 people died on the job in China, according to the Bureau.

That’s 186 people each day in a country of 1.3 billion — and around 20% of the 350,000 global toll from “occupational accidents,” as measured by the International Labor Organization in 2014.

By comparison, 12 are killed in the U.S. each day, in a country of 320 million, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The Chinese figures, though, appear to show the number of deaths is declining. For example, work accidents in industrial, mining and commercial sectors caused 1.328 deaths out of every 100,000 employees in 2014, the statistics said, down 12.9% on the previous year.

The figure is still too high for Chinese residents, especially when the accidents repeatedly include the threat of toxic contamination.

An aerial image taken shows toxic smoke rising from debris in Tianjin, a sprawling port city of more than 13 million people about 70 miles from Beijing.
An aerial image taken shows toxic smoke rising from debris in Tianjin, a sprawling port city of more than 13 million people about 70 miles from Beijing.

Spate of accidents

The blast in Tianjin follows a litany of industrial accidents that have left scores dead, and raised accusations that China has traded safety for cheap and rapid economic growth.

“China’s growth in the chemicals industry has been extremely rapid in the last 15 years or so. It’s grown from being a major importer to being a major producer of almost every single petrochemical you can think of today,” said Ashish Pujari, senior director of IHS Chemical in Singapore.

“There are producers who are known to cut corners, in terms of regulation. There are very blatant examples of people constructing plants and almost getting into production even before the whole project has been approved.

“If you’re to go into the U.S. — the U.S. doesn’t allow a single pile to be driven into the ground unless all the environmental regulations have been met and you have to have approvals for everything,” Pujari added.

In April, an explosion at a paraxylene — or PX — factory in Zhangzhou caused panic as locals feared contamination of the city’s water supplies. It was the second blast at the same site in two years.

The presence of PX near residential areas has lead to protests in other parts of China. PX, used in the production of plastic bottles and polyester clothing, is highly flammable and known to damage the central nervous system on exposure.

In 2013, more than 100 workers died when a huge fire swept through a poultry plant in Dehui. Survivors said the doors were locked, preventing many from escaping.

At the time, state news agency Xinhua noted: “The complicated interior structure of the prefabricated house in which the fire broke out and the narrow exits… added difficulties to the rescue work.”

What was in the Tianjin factory?

The lack of oversight is apparent in the questions being asked about what was being stored in Tianjin warehouse. Chinese authorities say they aren’t sure, as the facility’s managers provided “insufficient information.”

Military inspections at the blast site Sunday revealed “several hundred tons of cyanide material” at two locations, said Major General Shi Luze. Authorities are checking customs records for more clues as to exactly what was being held.

The “cyanide material” was sodium cyanide, a highly toxic substance used to extract precious metals in the mining industry, among other uses.

“Sodium cyanide is a very toxic chemical. It would take about a quarter of teaspoon to kill you. Another problem with sodium cyanide is that it can change into prussic acid, which is even more deadly. So the whole business is trying to clean up this mess is difficult,” chemical risk consultant David Leggett told CNN.

Environmental group Greenpeace said it believed other dangerous chemicals stored at the site included toluene diisocyanate and calcium carbide, citing a local monitoring station.

Leggett said he found it “hard to believe” there were only a handful of different types of chemicals in the Tianjin warehouse: “I would have expected a lot more than that,” he said.

Angry residents demand answers

The questions that linger about exactly what Chinese authorities are dealing with makes the response even more difficult, Leggett added. How far should the exclusion zone extend? What risk is there to water supplies? Could the cleanup itself cause contamination to spread?

Regulations set by the State Administration of Work Safety state that facilities over 550 square meters that handle and store dangerous chemicals must be at least one kilometer away from public buildings and facilities.

It appears that didn’t happen in Tianjin.

Locals are now asking why, after a series of lethal blasts, the Chinese government hasn’t done more to protect them, when the horror of previous disasters are so well known.

After the blasts, the International Labor Organization said in a statement that it was confident the “root causes of the Tianjin accident would be thoroughly investigated and inspire a review of policies on major hazard control in China.”

Pujari from IHS said China needed to improve on all three aspects of safety: regulation, implementation of that regulation, and training for all workers who deal with dangerous chemicals.

“If you had to ask all the (people behind the) investments that have gone up in the last 10 to 15 years to do an audit on a new set of regulations it could be a very big task,” he said.

However, he said “this incident could force the industry and the government to invest in training.”


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I began writing Elle's Adventure in China (EACh) in June 2014 as a fun summer project, but as obstacles kept interfering with my plans, I forked and forked more options. I took writing this novel much more seriously in mid-July, and want to have it officially published someday in my lifetime. As many artists put their hearts into their projects, so do I. I did not start out liking to read, but a professor suggested a book for me for homework a few years ago, and it was an amazing book. Since then, I read for pleasure, and I hope my novel, Elle's Adventure in China, does the same for as many of you as possible. The same thing goes to writing. I did not like to write until I took a course where the professor and papers made me love to write. I hope every one of you find what makes you happy and dedicated to work. In May 2015, I started my other blog, Read and Write Here (R&WH), as a place to post other things that aren't China- and Chinese culture-related and not EACh. I share some of my memories and experiences from student teaching, irregular participation in Daily Prompts, etc. I'd like to have regular people and bloggers to write book reviews and post it on R&WH someday. Keep reading and writing!

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