Safety checks urged on chemical plants

Date:2011-10-08qulina  Text Size:

CHINA has urged immediate nationwide safety checks on paraxylene and facilities making hazardous chemicals after a chemical plant was closed in August following protests over pollution concerns.

The National Development and Reform Commission said in a statement on its website yesterday that developers of paraxylene (PX) plants under construction should ensure their location meets government standards on safety and environmental protection.
The top economic planning agency also said construction of such plants may not start before government approval is given.
In August, authorities in Dalian, a port city in northeast China, decided to close the Fujia chemical plant, which produced PX, after thousands of protesters took to the streets over concerns of potential toxic chemical leaks and health hazards.

In the Dalian incident, calls to relocate the Fujia factory rose after waves from Tropical Storm Muifa broke a dike guarding it from floodwaters. No chemical leaks had been reported, said Xinhua. Still, local leaders in Dalian stopped the PX project and move it from the city.

PX is a carcinogenic petrochemical used to make raw materials for the production of polyester film and fabrics. PX vapor can cause eye, nose and throat irritation in humans and, in high concentrations, can affect the central nervous system and cause death.

“PX is a product with relatively low danger among the thousands of hazardous chemicals,” the NDRC statement said. “However, some companies have ignored safety in the production and management of hazardous chemicals, causing safety and environmental pollution accidents one after another.”

Earlier this month, Premier Wen Jiabao said China would curb the building of new petrochemical projects along the Bohai Bay after two oil leaks in June at an offshore oilfield operated by ConocoPhillips polluted the bay. – Shanghai Daily

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