Issue Date: May 26, 2008
Cost Of China Earthquake Rises
CHEMICAL COMPANIES operating in the area in southwest China where a 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck on May 12 are gathering more specific details about deaths and injuries among their workers and damage to their facilities.
The region is not one of China's main hubs for chemical and pharmaceutical production, but a number of fine chemicals and fertilizer producers operate there.
Sun Dongliang, executive chairman of the Chinese industry group CCPIT Sub-Council of Chemical Industry, told C&EN that the area around the cities of Deyang and Shifang, about 50 miles from the quake's epicenter, is one of four main phosphorus production centers in China. He said phosphorus mines and phosphate-processing facilities in Deyang suffered extensive damage, although he was unclear about the details when he spoke to C&EN because phone service had just been reestablished.
Sichuan Hongda, a producer of ammonia and phosphate derivatives, issued a statement saying that 79 people died at its facilities in Shifang. The firm estimates its direct economic losses at $55 million.
China National Chemical (ChemChina), a state-owned conglomerate employing 100,000 people throughout China, said in a statement that 36 of its employees died and 457 were injured, 23 of them severely. The group estimates its economic losses at $120 million.
Most of ChemChina's damage was at subsidiary Deyang Haohua Qingping Linkuang's phosphate mine, where 31 people lost their lives and 34 are unaccounted for. ChemChina said a hill slid into Haohua Qingping, burying seven dormitories and a sales office and trapping miners underground.
The environmental group Greenpeace reported that several chemical plants in the area most affected by the earthquake are still operating in violation of an order by the State Administration of Work Safety to stop production and carry out safety inspections.
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