Blast at China Pesticide Plant Kills 64
At least 64 people have died after a pesticide plant exploded in China, one of the country’s worst accidents in recent years.
The incident occurred around 2:50 p.m. local time on Mar. 21, when the plant owned by Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical in Yangcheng, Jiangsu province, caught fire, triggering a series of and subsequent explosions.
Media reports said hundreds were been injured, 90 critically. The number of deaths is likely to rise, with another 28 people still missing as of Mar. 23, according to China’s Xinhua News Agency.
The cause of the blast was being investigated and Xinhua said people responsible for the plant’s operations had been “placed under control.” The facility produces p-phenylenediamine and m-phenylenediamine, among other products, and employs 195 staff.
The company is reported to have a history of safety violations and failed a government inspection last year. Its poor safety record is said to include the mishandling of benzene. Some reports said this was the source of the explosion; others, however, s said fertilizer may have also been involved.
Jiangsu’s local government announced in an emergency notice on Mar. 22 that it planned to immediately inspect chemical plants and warehouses across the province and shut down any companies that do not comply with regulations on handling dangerous chemicals.
“Along with Shandong province, Jiangsu province up to now has been the province with the toughest restrictions on the chemical industry, including the shutdown of thousands of companies and the target of relocating the vast majority of chemical production into chemical parks. As the Tianjiayi example shows, relocation alone may not be sufficient to ensure safe production,” said Kai Pflug of Management Consulting - Chemicals, a Shanghai-based consultancy.
China has suffered a string of chemical industry disasters in recent years. In November 2018, 23 people died in an explosion at Hebei Shenghua Chemical. A liquefied gas tanker in Shandong exploded and killed 10 people on Jun. 5, 2017, and in August 2015, more than 170 people died following an explosion at a chemical warehouse in Tianjin, one of the world’s busiest ports.
Our China Expert Kai Pflug, CEO of MCC, a Shanghai-based chemical consulting company, says: “Along with Shandong province, Jiangsu province has recently been the province with the toughest restrictions on the chemical industry including the shutdown of thousands of companies and the target of relocating the vast majority of chemical production into chemical parks. As the Tianjiayi example shows, such a relocation alone may not be sufficient to ensure safe production.”