China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Blast at Chinese Chemical Plant Kills 12

By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN
The Associated Press Via Washingtonpost.com
Friday, July 28, 2006; 8:08 AM

SHANGHAI, China -- An explosion at a chemical plant in eastern China killed at least 12 people Friday and prompted the evacuation of 7,000 others, state media and officials said.

Also Friday, two unrelated explosions at another chemical plant and aboard an oil tanker injured at least five people, with two others missing and feared dead.

The 9 a.m. explosion at the Fudu Chemical Plant in Jiangsu province's Linhai Township, about 190 miles north of Shanghai, shattered the facility.

By midafternoon, 12 bodies had been recovered, a spokesman for the surrounding Sheyang county government said. About a dozen more were injured, said the man, who like many Chinese bureaucrats would only give his surname, Huang.

The cause of the 9 a.m. blast is still under investigation, Huang said. Though no dangerous levels of pollution have been detected, authorities evacuated 7,000 people from about a mile around the blast site as a precaution, he said.

Fudu is a major producer of fluorochemicals for industry, according to the company Web site. No details were given on the cause of the accident or the specific chemicals involved. Earlier newspaper reports said the company had been cited for violating pollution standards in the past but there was no mention of safety problems.

Reached by phone, Fudu General Manager Xue Chunlin said it was "not convenient" for him to comment on the cause of the accident or condition of those injured.

One hour before the blast, an explosion and fire struck a plant belonging to the Shanghai Yuanda Peroxide Co. Ltd., seriously injuring at least four people and billowing thick smoke across the Baoshan industrial district to the city's north, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The fire was quickly brought under control and investigators were looking into the cause, said a woman who answered the phone at Yuanda's headquarters in Shanghai.

In a later report, Xinhua said the Yuanda explosion had initially been ruled an accident with no sign of foul play.

Yuanda's Web site describes it as a joint venture with a Hong Kong company that produces 50,000 tons per year of the chemical peroxide.

Shortly before the Yuanda accident, a massive explosion split the hull of an oil tanker sailing down a canal in central Jiangsu's Yizheng district, Xinhua reported.

Two people aboard the boat were reported missing after the blast and feared dead, the report said. Another person was taken to a hospital in critical condition, it said.

Factory accidents in China kill thousands each year in fires, explosions and other incidents, most often blamed on insufficient safety equipment and workers ignoring safety guidelines. The resulting contamination of air and water has also forced the shutdown of drinking water systems to entire cities, inflicting massive financial losses.

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