In the aftermath of the blast in Tianjin, China that left over 100 people dead, there are numerous questions to be answered. At the center of the investigation is the controversy surrounding numerous safety protocols that were violated and in some cases, overlooked. The explosions that claimed the lives of so many were the result of lax policies regarding chemical storage and handling. According to one industry source, “There are strict rules for each kind of hazardous chemical depending on its risk factor. Some have to be kept at specific temperatures and away from moisture. Some even underground,” emphasizing the fact that several of the chemicals responsible for the explosion were improperly handled.
Officials surveying and documenting the area of the blast have confirmed that 700 tons of sodium cyanide were stored in the blast area. This was a clear violation of the standard that stipulates only 10 tons can be stored in one place at a time. The Chinese state media has reported that the warehouse administrator, Ruihai International, did not have the clearance to operate a hazardous chemical business from October of 2014 until June of 2015. According to Ivan Su, a logistics professor at Soochow University in Taiwan, “When it comes to warehousing, there’s got to be a separate design and location for storing hazardous chemicals as well as restrictions on a maximum storage quota or the strength of its walls,” further illustrating the perilous nature of the situation prior to the blast.
While analysts from entities around the world continue to investigate the situation both pre and post explosion, one thing is becoming clear: improper chemical handling can lead to disastrous situations. To circumvent tragedies such as the Tianjin explosion, numerous safeguards and precautions must be in place. To find out how you can comprehensively manage your chemical safety, click here.