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China Plans Inspections Of Ports, Chemical Plants

Safety: Regimen comes in wake of fatal warehouse explosion in Tianjin

by Rick Mullin
October 26, 2015 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 93, Issue 42

China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) says it will spend the next several weeks conducting safety inspections at port, chemical, and nonferrous metal facilities throughout 16 provinces.

The inspections will check that operators have undergone required environmental impact assessments and will seek to identify hazardous conditions and improper wastewater disposal.

They come in the wake of a massive explosion in the port city of Tianjin on Aug. 12. It occurred at a warehouse in which large quantities of hazardous chemicals were stored. The death toll for the disaster exceeds 160.

Pan Yue, MEP’s vice minister, says operational risks at the sites targeted for inspection “still threaten environmental safety, public health, and even social stability.”

MEP also will look at construction activity and plans to evaluate storage and handling safety in the chemical industry, which could experience a spike in construction after the Tianjin blast.

So far, the explosion doesn’t appear to have had a major impact on Western companies operating in China. Guy Villax, the chairman of Rx-360, a group of fine chemical and drug companies that pools data about plant inspections, says the group recently surveyed members to assess whether to study the accident’s implications for the pharmaceutical supply chain. It found that only one member had shipments impacted.

“As a result, the initiative did not go forward as we felt it unjustified,” says Villax, who is CEO of Hovione, a Portuguese drug chemical firm with a plant in China.


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