China has launched a month-long nationwide probe into hazardous chemicals, mines, transportation, and fire safety one week after a chemical plant explosion in eastern Jiangsu province killed 78 people.
Observers say that will put the world’s largest chemical industry under tighter scrutiny and regulation of the management of hazardous chemicals to prevent similar man-made disasters from happening again.
Some argue the sector’s malpractice and corruption is so deeply-rooted, however, that any quick-fix measures are unlikely to change the “blood-stained” growth pattern of the industry.
Authorities continue investigating the cause of last Friday’s blast in Chenjiagan Industrial Park in Xiangshui county, which injured another 600 people.
State media reported that a manufacturing facility belonging to Tianjiayi Chemical Co that contained benzene, a highly flammable chemical, has been linked to the blast.
Tianjiayi Chemical is a pesticide maker and producer of more than 30 chemical compounds. In February, the State Administration of Work Safety found 13 types of safety risks at the factory, including the mishandling of toxic benzene tanks.
According to local environmental protection bureaus, the producer has rolled up more than $262,000 in fines since 2016 for breaches of environmental regulations.