Canadian Manufacturing

Plenty of blame to go around after Chinese chemical plant blast

A state agency said the company and local government had failed to adequately carry out safety management and supervision



BEIJING—China’s work safety watchdog blamed an explosion at a chemical plant in southeast China this month on the factory’s management and failings in local government supervision.

The April 6 blast and ensuing hydrocarbon fire at the paraxylene plant in Fujian province left six people hospitalized and renewed discussion on China’s social media about the potential dangers of factories that produce the toxic chemical.

Huang Yi, spokesman for the State Administration of Work Safety, told reporters Wednesday that the bosses of the Goure PX Plant chose the cheapest bidder to build the facility at the expense of safety. He said a furnace was too close to storage tanks, so when unspecified materials leaked into the furnace because of a broken tube, the blast tore into a tank and caused the fire.

Huang also said that the company and local government had failed to adequately carry out safety management and supervision, and that those responsible would be dealt with according to law.

The plant in Zhangzhou city is run by Tenglong Fangting, whose parent company is Xianglu Tenglong Group. A woman at the parent company in Xiamen city in Fujian said they had no comment and would not provide a contact number for the subsidiary.

Concerns over the safety of plants that make paraxylene, or PX, a chemical used for producing fibers and plastics, have prompted several protests in China in recent years. Exposure to the chemical can cause eye, nose and throat irritation.

The Zhangzhou plant had originally been slated for a more densely populated city, but protests by residents succeeded in getting it relocated.

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