Lack of safety measures caused Quangang petrochemical spill, further probe ongoing
By Gao Yun
The petrochemical leak from an aging hose pipe on November 4 in southeast China's Fujian Province was caused by the lack of implementation of safety measures, according to a preliminary investigation.
The leakage occurred at 1:00 a.m. on November 4 in the Quangang District of Quanzhou City. Toxic fumes from the spill resulted in hospitalization of 52 residents. Patients complained of dizziness, nausea, and vomiting caused by exposure to the leaked chemical.
Further investigation underway
A further probe into the chemical leak is underway as local police obtain evidence from four relevant people in the incident.
Local authorities began strictly controlling the water products in that area, and urged those involved to take responsibility for the losses.
As of Friday afternoon, 10 people remained hospitalized.
Quick response helped contain the spill
About 6.97 tonnes of byproducts from petroleum refining leaked from a docked ship.
In response, authorities initiated an emergency clean-up operation to absorb the chemical from the water, dispatching more than 100 ships, over 600 personnel and nearly as many bales of linoleum to absorb the chemical. The operation was nearly completed by 6 p.m. on Sunday.
As of 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, over 400 vessels, 2,500 personnel, 732 bales of linoleum and 70 barrels of the oil-cleaning agent were used for oil absorption. The floating oil in the affected waters has been mainly cleaned up.
The local authorities will conduct an environmental assessment to study the impact of the spilled petrochemical on soil, marine life, air, and water.
The leaked petrochemical contains C9 Aromatic Hydrocarbons. The chemical comprises of a petroleum naphtha refinery stream and is used for manufacturing adhesives and paints.
Annual worldwide production of C9 aromatic naphtha for solvent use is estimated at 50,000-250,000 metric tons.
Harmful effects of C9 Aromatic Hydrocarbons
According to the European Chemical Agency, C9 substance "may be fatal if swallowed or inhaled. It is toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects. The flammable liquid and vapor may cause respiratory irritation and dizziness."
Sun Yafei, a member of the China Science Writers Association, explained that one of the most dangerous effects of C9 Aromatic Hydrocarbons is killing marine products in nearby fisheries.
"Some organic matter will remain in the marine products long after the incident, which is also a major problem that we need to pay attention to," said Sun.
Air, water and aquatic products in the affected areas have all reached national safety levels, according to local government authorities.
(Top image via VCG; CGTN's Alok Gupta and Guo Meiping also contributed to the story.)