Cyanide in waters near China blast site poses risk

Cyanide levels in waters at China blast area rise 277 times above acceptable standards

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Cyanide levels in waters have been rising since warehouse blasts in China

Chinese authorities reported that cyanide levels in waters around the Tianjin port blast site had risen as much as 277 times above acceptable levels.

The authorities declared the city’s waters were safe for drinking.

The Tianjin Environmental Protection Bureau issued a report of tests conducted the day before, on Wednesday. The report shows that cyanide levels in the river, sea and waste waters around the explosion site have risen sharply since the deadly blasts.

The local government confirmed the presence of 700 tonnes of the deadly chemical sodium cyanide in the warehouse that exploded last Wednesday.

The government also said that they would move chemical plants from the Tianjin Binhai New Area where residents were forced to evacuate due to toxic detected following the explosions last week.

The chemical plants will be located in Nangang Industrial Zone 25 km (15.5 miles) away from the area where the blasts occured, according to the official China Daily, citing Tianjin Mayor Huang Xingguo. 

After days of investigations, the Tianjin government announced that warehouses contained 2,500 tonnes of 40 different types of dangerous goods, classified into three categories, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

There were 1,300 tonnes of potentially explosive oxidising chemicals, including ammonium nitrate and potassium nitrate, 500 tonnes of flammables, including sodium and magnesium, and 700 tonnes of deadly poisons, mainly sodium cyanide.

The state media reported that apartment buildings and a railway station were very close to the warehouse, that is not allowed by Chinese regulations on storing chemical materials.

According to Chinese regulations, warehouses holding dangerous materials must be located at least 1 km away from city centres, public buildings and main roads.

Local residents demand the government either buy back their damaged properties or compensate their losses. The Tianjin government said third-party assessments would determine whether to buy back some of 17,000 apartments damaged by the blasts.

"Apartments that should be torn down will be torn down, apartments that need to be rebuilt will be rebuilt, apartments that need to be repurchased will be repurchased," said Vice Mayor Zong Guoying. 

The two explosions that killed 114 people, occurred last Wednesday at a warehouse site in Tianjin owned by the Tianjin Dongjiang Port Rui Hai International Logistics Company. The company stores and transports dangerous chemicals.

After the blasts, Chinese President Xi Jinping urged for changes in work safety, calling the evacuation of residents within a range of 3 km from the site of the incident in order to prevent any possible chemical contamination.

TRTWorld and agencies