China tightens grip on hazardous chemicals

An office building damaged by the August 2015 explosion in Tianjin. Credit: Jean-Francois Tremblay

An office building damaged by the August 2015 explosion in Tianjin. Credit: Jean-Francois Tremblay

From Jean-Francois Tremblay’s C&EN story:

China’s highest decision-making body, the State Council, has unveiled a three-year plan to prevent accidents involving hazardous chemicals. The plan was crafted in response to the August 2015 explosion at a hazardous goods storage site in Tianjin that killed 165 people, most of them firefighters. …

Countrywide audits will certainly reduce the risk of industrial accidents involving hazardous goods, observes Kai Pflug, president of the Shanghai-based advisory firm Management Consulting – Chemicals. “Hazardous chemicals have been very frequently stored and shipped in ways that were prohibited by Chinese law,” he says.

But the country doesn’t need new regulations, Pflug says. “The accident in Tianjin wouldn’t have been so bad if existing rules had been followed,” he notes. Already, Pflug reports, European chemical companies operating in China complain that shipping regulations are too onerous. And some ports refuse to accept hazardous chemicals, forcing firms to use ports that are farther away from customers, Pflug says. “Longer road shipments don’t help safety,” he notes.

Go read the full story for more.

Author: Jyllian Kemsley

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