Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) officials said that hazardous chemicals released from deadly explosions at the Chinese port of Tianjin would not affect Taiwan, as southwesterly winds would carry any pollution away.
Stories have circulated on social media saying that less than one week after the explosions hazardous airborne chemicals might reach Taiwan, and that people should avoid going outside in the rain because it could be highly contaminated.
The officials said that the EPA used the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s weather tracking technique to plot the likely spread of pollutants after the Tianjin explosions and concluded that any pollutants would move in a northeasterly direction.
Chinese media outlets reported that the chemical storage facilities of Ruihai Logistics — a firm that specializes in the handling hazardous materials — contained 700 tonnes of sodium cyanide, leading to widespread panic.
Asked by Chinese media outlets about the existence of sodium cyanide at the explosion site, a Tianjin City Government official said that the city is not clear about the situation and could not be sure if sodium cyanide was there or not.
According to media reports, however, the firefighters who rushed to the scene to process the 700 tonnes of sodium cyanide said to be at the site by a chemical plant owner found a huge crater in the ground and remains of sodium cyanide containers scattered on the ground.
An official at Tianjin’s environmental protection office told reporters that he was shocked by the report and said that either it was not true, or the storage firm had violated the law, because the maximum volume of sodium cyanide allowed to be stored is 10 tonnes, and that the substance should be sealed in facilities for hazardous materials.
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