Blast at China Petchems Plant Kills Ten

07.06.2017 -

Another deadly explosion has rocked a petrochemical plant in China, this time in the eastern province of Shandong, killing 10 people. The incident occurred in the early hours of Jun. 5 local time, when a liquefied gas tanker exploded, triggering fires in the loading area of Linyi Jinyu Petrochemical Co. in the Linyi Lingang economic development zone.

Initially, the Chinese state news agency Xinhua said eight people had been killed and nine injured. However, a day later, two more bodies were pulled from the rubble, lifting the death toll. The identities of the victims were not immediately disclosed.

Xinhua said “the responsible person” at Linyi Jinyu, the company that operates the plant, had been detained. No further details were available on Jun. 6, and the extent of the damage had not been determined.

An investigation into the cause of the accident is said to be underway, and the facility is expected to remain offline. However, the petrochemical news agency Platts said spot supplies were unlikely to be affected amid a market glut.

The explosion at Shangdong is reminiscent of another deadly Chinese chemicals accident in August 2015, when a series of explosions shook a warehouse for dangerous goods operated by Tianjin Ruihai International Logistics in the port city of Tianjin, killing more than 170 people. The facility is said to have housed extensive quantities of sodium cyanide, ammonium nitrate, potassium nitrate and calcium carbide.

A subsequent investigation found that permitted tonnage of various hazardous products had been considerably exceeded and that the warehouse was located too close to a residential area. Also uncovered was the fact that the facility had apparently operated illegally for several months before it was officially approved – two months before the blast.

 In the aftermath of that incident, which was estimated to have caused direct economic losses of around $1.1 billion, China’s former top work-safety official, a former deputy mayor of Tianjin, was dismissed. He later received a prison sentence of 15 years for corruption. A Beijing court said the former official had taken bribes totaling $4.14 million in exchange for project contracts. It was not clear whether the alleged corruption was directly related to the Tianjin disaster.

Altogether, the China State Council investigation team identified 123 people as being directly or indirectly responsible for the 2015 incident. It recommended that the warehouse operator’s licenses be revoked and company executives be banned from working in the sector.