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China to carry out exceptional safety inspections following fatal chemical plant explosion

28 March 2019

China's Ministry of Emergency Management will carry out a month-long special inspection in the fields of hazardous chemicals, mines and fire safety, according to the Xinhua state news agency. In a statement, the Ministry said lessons should be learned from recent accidents, and the country must thoroughly analyse its production safety systems. This follows the deadly chemical plant blast in east China's Jiangsu province on March 21 that killed 78.

Representative image - Shutterstock
Representative image - Shutterstock

All localities and relevant departments should put the safety of dangerous chemicals in a more prominent position and ensure that hidden dangers found by municipal and county regulatory agencies are properly rectified, the statement said. Local authorities should study the requirements for entering chemical industry parks, toughen risk assessment and safety standards, and must not let chemical parks become areas that gather major hidden dangers and where accidents frequently take place, it added.

Big data, the Internet of Things and other scientific and technological means should be used to strengthen the real-time monitoring of employees and dangerous chemicals, the statement said.

The Ministry will also investigate and rectify potential hazards in coal mines, non-coal mines, fire control, road traffic, construction and other fields, and intensify law enforcement in the process, according to the statement.

In the new round of inspections, safety departments have been told to investigate "poor, chaotic and small" enterprises and to ensure that unqualified companies are shut down. They are also under pressure to crack down on other violations, including the illegal or excess storage of dangerous chemical materials.

"In the next stage, we will tighten environmental impact assessment approvals for chemical plants and enhance daily inspections," environment ministry spokesman Liu Youbin told Reuters.

China has a history of major work safety accidents and each one normally triggers a nationwide inspection campaign aimed at rooting out violations and punishing officials for cutting corners or shirking their supervisory duties.

After a pipeline explosion killed 62 people in Qingdao in 2013, a nationwide safety inspection revealed nearly 20,000 potential disaster risks in China’s oil and gas sector, Reuters said.

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