At 2:48 p.m. on March 21, 2019, a serious explosion occurred in Tianjiayi Chemical Co., Ltd (Tianjiayi Chemical) which is located in the ecological chemical park in Xiangshui county, Yancheng city, Jiangsu province, causing 78 deaths and 76 injuries. 640 people were hospitalized, and the economic loss was around RMB 1.9 billion.
According to the result from an investigation group of the accident, the direct cause of the accident was that Tianjiayi Chemical illegally kept nitration waste in storage over a long period of time. The temperature of the nitration waste continued to rise, which eventually led to autoignition. The investigation group concluded that Tianjiayi Chemical ignored the laws and regulations of environmental protection and production safety. The company gave false reports of their chemical materials and illegally stored and disposed of nitration waste.
Experts convene to discuss continual hazardous waste accidents
Due to the fact that accidents caused by hazardous wastes have continued to occur since the famous hazardous waste accident in Xiangshui on March 21, 2019, many experts in China held a live broadcast on chemical safety on March 20 in order to strengthen the management of hazardous wastes.
There are various problems when it comes to disposal and utilization of hazardous wastes in China. First, a large amount of hazardous waste from different areas is produced in China every day, and the waste includes a variety of chemical components. Second, business in hazardous waste disposal is inefficient. For example, in 2017, the standard for business in hazardous waste disposal in China was to dispose and reuse around 8,178 tons of waste throughout the year. However, on average, industries only disposed and reused 2,252 tons of waste. In terms of pesticide industries, pollution from hazardous waste has already become a key issue with regard to environmental protection.
With the revision of the law and regulations on hazardous waste, the trending plan for building ‘zero-waste cities’ in China, as well as the formulation of standardized policies to deal with hazardous waste, recently many cities in China have set up management systems for tracking the production, transportation and disposal of hazardous waste.
Stricter management of hazardous wastes needed in China
Experts believe that the number of chemical accidents is most likely related to hazardous waste. “Just like food products, hazardous waste also has its expiration date. It is wrong to think that if material is safe when it is produced, it will always be safe even if it turns into waste after being used. The accident that happened in Xiangshui on March 21, 2019 is a typical example the danger of waste products.” Experts also think that a fundamental problem regarding hazardous waste disposal is reducing the volume of chemical material production. Industries should fully consider production volume, processing costs, and safety issues when it comes to choosing a technology to produce chemical materials.
In terms of managing hazardous waste in industrial parks, experts believe that it is important for industries to strictly evaluate their projects before implementing their projects in industrial parks. Additionally, professionals should be hired to investigate and solve hidden environmental danger caused by hazardous waste. Finally, industries should sign an agreement with industrial parks to dispose of hazardous waste immediately after it is produced.
For more information on China’s industry trends, please check our Online Database.