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Fourteen jailed in China over fatal Qingdao pipeline blast

01 December 2015

Eight former Sinopec executives and six local government ex-officials  were sentenced to up to five years in jail on November 30 over a fatal oil pipeline explosion in Qingdao, a coastal city in east China’s Shandong Province, in November 2013. The blast caused 63 deaths, left 156 others injured and led to economic losses amounting to nearly 750 million yuan (US$117 million).

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Stock image

The November 22 blast occurred when workers were trying to clear the spill from a ruptured pipeline. Corrosion and subsequent poor response from workers was blamed for the accident.

The eight executives from the pipeline’s operator, oil giant China Petroleum and Chemical Corp, or Sinopec, were given jail terms ranging from three to five years for breaking “work safety rules.”

The six local government officials were sentenced from three years to three and a half years for “dereliction of duty,” according to the Huangdao District People’s Court.

Ten of the accused, including Xing Yuqing, a former deputy chief of Sinopec’s pipeline storage and transport company, have filed appeals against the verdict, Xinhua news agency reported. The others say they are still considering their next step.

The pipeline had been in use since July 1986 and had become corroded, causing it to leak. In an attempt to clear the crude oil that had leaked into a drainage culvert, workers used a hydraulic hammer that was not explosion-proof, which generated sparks that triggered the blast, an investigation found.

The accident shed light on the lack of checks for potential hazards, negligence in pipeline supervision and weak emergency response, according to the State Administration of Work Safety.

More than 60 people have been punished in the aftermath of the explosion, with at least 48 penalised for violating Party and administrative disciplines.

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