Greenpeace urges stricter laws for Chinese chemical firms

China needs to take urgent action to prevent chemical-related accidents that killed 199 people in eight months.

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

A man rests at dining hall of a primary school, which has been turned into a shelter affected by the 2015 chemical explosions in Tianjin.

Hundreds of people are injured every year in accidents in China's chemical industry and environmental group Greenpeace called on Beijing to impose stricter controls.

China needs to "radically overhaul" the way it manages its chemical industry, which is now "appallingly under-regulated", a Greenpeace report said on Wednesday.

The report was launched on the same day, four people were killed in an explosion at a facility run by the Wanhua Chemical Group, in China's northeastern region.

According to Greenpeace, 199 people died and 400 injured in 232 chemical-related accidents in 2016.

"The government must take urgent action to manage chemicals in a sound manner, provide a safety net for workers and citizens,” Cheng Qian, a campaigner with the group said.

The group also called on China to provide a more accurate picture of the industry in order to provide more transparency. 

Publicly available data from 2010 fo 2011 suggested that the China’s densely populated eastern coastal regions host the majority of 33,625 chemical facilities in the country.

Last year, 165 people were killed in a chemical warehouse in the northern city of Tianjin, on China's northern coast, following a series of explosions.

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire at a petrochemical plant in Zhangzhou, Fujian province, April 7, 2015. Photo by Reuters

The government detained 49 people in connection with the blasts. They said laws and regulations had been flouted by illegally storing hazardous materials at the site.

Port and work safety officials and an International Logistics firm Tianjin Ruihai were among who were accused of handling dangerous chemicals without licence.

China has struggled to enforce its regulations on acquiring, producing, storing and disposing of dangerous chemicals. Experts complained that the rules imposed in 2011 were inadequate and need to be tightened significantly.

TRTWorld, Reuters