123 persons found to have coordinated Tianjin blast

A State Council investigatory team has identified 123 people responsible for the Tianjin warehouse explosions in August that killed at least 165 people and put direct economic losses at 6.87 billion yuan (about 1.1 billion dollars).

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Photo taken on Aug. 13, 2015 shows burnt vehicles near the core area of the explosion site in Tianjin.(Xinhua/Cai Yang)
Photo taken on Aug. 13, 2015 shows burnt vehicles near the core area of the explosion site in Tianjin.(Xinhua/Cai Yang)

Previously, another 49 people, including 13 from Tianjin Ruihai International Logistics Co. Ltd (Ruihai Logistics), owner of the warehouse, have been put under “coercive measures” in line with the law, the team said in a report on Friday. “Coercive measures” may include summons by force, bail, residential surveillance, detention and arrest.

Photo taken on Aug. 13, 2015 shows burnt vehicles near the core area of the explosion site in Tianjin.(Xinhua/Cai Yang)
Photo taken on Aug. 13, 2015 shows burnt vehicles near the core area of the explosion site in Tianjin.(Xinhua/Cai Yang)

After five months of investigation, the team has concluded that the disaster, “an extraordinarily serious production safety accident,” was caused by ignition of hazardous materials, improperly or illegally stored at the site.

The fire started in a container through auto-ignition of nitro-cotton, due to vaporization of the wetting agent during hot weather. The fire spread, igniting other chemicals, including ammonium nitrate, the report said

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It said Ruihai Logistics had “illegally built a freight yard of hazardous materials, conducted illegal operations, illegally stored hazardous material and their safety management procedures were inept.”

The company’s executives were found to have exploited their connections and bribed local officials to get approvals.

The probe suggests 74 officials be subject to Communist Party of China disciplinary procedures, 48 be admonished by their local discipline inspection commissions. One other culpable person died of natural causes during the course of the investigation.

The report also recommends that Ruihai Logistics’ licenses be revoked and company executives be banned from any other executive posts in the sector.

On Aug. 12, two explosions ripped through a Ruihai Logistics’ warehouse in Tianjin Port, killing 165 people, including 99 firefighters. Another eight people are still unaccounted for.

The explosions damaged 304 buildings, 12,428 cars and 7,533 containers.

Authorities are continuing to monitor and control pollution nearly six months after the explosions rocked Tianjin Port, which is about 160 km from Beijing.

With a large amount of toxic chemicals like ammonium nitrate and sodium cyanide stored at the site, the explosions have caused air, water and soil pollution in the core zone and surrounding areas, but did not affect the marine environment in Bohai Bay, where Tianjin is located, the report said.

“No people were poisoned or killed by the pollution. The negative impact on the air has basically been neutralized, while the polluted surface water has been appropriately disposed of,” the team wrote in a statement delivered to Xinhua.

Authorities are still dealing with underground water and soil pollution in the core zone of the explosions, it said.

The fatal blasts have exposed slack Chinese safety management of hazardous chemicals, and the investigatory team made suggestions for improving government supervision to prevent more such tragedies.

“China should give more priority to production safety,” the report said, advising that the central government streamline port safety management, delimit responsibilities clearly, strictly implement city planning and tighten safety requirements.

The team urged more government scrutiny of intermediary organizations responsible for safety and environmental evaluations. Fraudulent safety evaluation reports issued by appraisal firms involved in this case allowed Ruihai Logistics to get government permits to operate.

China should also improve its emergency disposal protocols and equip rescue forces with specialist devices for this, the report said. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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