Fri, Aug 21, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Cyanide in Tianjin waters 350 times safe level

AFP and Reuters, BEIJING and SHANGHAI

Smoke rises from the site of an explosion that reduced a parking lot of new cars to charred remains at a port warehouse in Tianjin, China, on Thursday last week.

Photo: AP

Cyanide levels more than 350 times standard limits have been detected in water close to the site of deadly explosions in the Chinese port city of Tianjin, officials said yesterday.

The Tianjin environmental protection bureau said the chemical was detected at 25 water monitoring sites within the cordoned-off area around the blast site on Wednesday.

“An excessive level of cyanide was detected in eight locations with the highest reaching 356 times” the permitted level, the bureau said.

The local government also said it would relocate chemical plants away from the area, where thousands of nearby residents were forced to evacuate after toxic chemicals were detected in the air due to last week’s explosions, which killed 114 people.

The Politburo Standing Committee, during a special meeting yesterday, called on all levels of governments to do more to implement and monitor industrial safety rules, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Recently, there’s been a series of serious accidents in certain places, once again exposing grave safety risks,” Xinhua quoted from the meeting, which was called by Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) to address the Tianjin explosions.

A report from the Tianjin Environmental Protection Bureau on Wednesday said that tests conducted on Tuesday showed that cyanide levels in the river, sea and waste water in the evacuated area surrounding the explosion site had risen sharply since the blasts.

However, drinking water in Tianjin met national standards, according to a separate statement from health authorities on Tuesday.

The government has confirmed there were about 700 tonnes of the deadly chemical sodium cyanide in the warehouse that blew up on Wednesday last week.

Tianjin, the world’s 10th-busiest port, is to relocate chemical plants from the Tianjin Binhai New Area, where the blasts occurred, to the Nangang Industrial Zone, 25km away, according to the official China Daily, citing Tianjin Mayor Huang Xingguo (黃興國).

The Chinese Communist Party’s anti-graft watchdog promised to crack down both on corruption and on those responsible for violating laws and regulations which had led to the explosions, but stressed the importance of maintaining political stability, according to a statement on the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection Web site.

Chinese state media on Wednesday pointed fingers at executives of Ruihai, the company which owns the chemical warehouses, over the disaster, saying they used connections to obtain fire safety and environmental approvals.

The Tianjin government said it would conduct third-party assessments to determine whether to buy back some of the estimated 17,000 apartments damaged by the blasts, after hundreds of local residents demanded the government either provide compensation or buy back their damaged or destroyed property.

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