Authorities seek answers after 13 killed in Chemical Plant explosion

BEIJING: The Work Safety Committee of the State Council has decided to directly oversee the investigation of a chemical plant explosion that killed 13 and injured 35 others in Panjin, Liaoning province, according to a media release from the Ministry of Emergency Management on Friday.
The blast occurred while workers were doing maintenance at an alkylation facility at Panjin Haoye Chemical on Jan 15.
On Jan 19, the committee ordered Liaoning authorities to determine the cause of the explosion and identify those responsible as soon as possible. The provincial government should submit an investigation report to the committee for review and approval before making it public, the committee said.
The committee’s office is based in the ministry.
The blast, which happened as the Spring Festival holiday approached, has had a significantly negative impact on society and has taught the nation a sobering lesson, the Friday release said.
The festival – China’s most important occasion, during which hundreds of millions typically return to their hometowns for family reunions – began on Jan 22.
The release noted a series of problems that have been uncovered in the ongoing investigation. For example, to ensure profits, the company’s leaders neglected safety management and failed to reconcile hazards for an extended period of time, it said.
In addition, there were major loopholes in the management of the company’s high-risk maintenance operations, the release said. The company considered an ongoing national campaign to promote workplace safety in the chemical sector to be a mere formality.
The committee demanded investigators comb through chemical production facilities across the country and identify those that operate with safety hazards. Measures for risk control should be immediately enhanced in all key procedures to eradicate hazards that may cause poisonings, fires or explosions, it said.
–The Daily Mail-China Daily news exchange item