Mayor claims 'inescapable responsibility'
The top official in Tianjin pledged to relocate the chemical plants in Tianjin Binhai New Area following last week's fatal blasts.
Meanwhile, all companies that produce and store dangerous chemicals are undergoing strict inspection and will be closed if any faults are found, Huang Xingguo, mayor of Tianjin, said at a news conference on Wednesday.
The blasts on Aug 12 that rocked a warehouse storing hazardous chemicals in Tianjin Binhai New Area have claimed 114 lives, including 13 people not yet identified, and left 64 missing.
"As the principal leader of Tianjin, I have inescapable responsibility for the incident," said Huang, who met with the media for the first time one week after the blasts occurred.
Huang said the chemical plants in Tianjin Binhai New Area will be relocated to the Nangang Industrial Zone, 25 kilometers from the centre of the new area, according to the city's development plan.
Ruihai International Logistics Co, whose warehouse was located less than 1 km from several residential compounds, acquired the license to store and transport dangerous chemicals in June, according to Zong Guoying, top official of Tianjin Binhai New Area.
However, whether the location of the warehouse broke city planning and work safety laws will be answered by the final report by the State Council investigation group, said He Shushan, deputy mayor of Tianjin in charge of work safety.
Ruihai is one of the three companies approved to store dangerous chemicals in Tianjin Port.
Zong said Ruihai was owned by Yu Xuewei, the former executive at the State-run Tianjin Binhai Logistics Co, and Dong Shexuan, the son of a former Tianjin Port police chief. Both have been detained by police.
As for the 17,000 households affected by the blasts－some of whom have asked the government to buy their apartments－Zong said the government had set up a work centre to solve the problems.
"The degree of impact varies from apartment to apartment," Zong said. "If it needs to be torn down, we will tear it down. If we should build new apartments to locate the residents, we will relocate them. We will compensate according to law."
Huang said there will be no major impact on commodities exports despite the fact that 176 businesses had been affected during the blasts.
"I understand that many companies are facing difficulties at the moment and they might think of moving out, but I believe that the difficulties will be temporary and risks can be solved," he said. "Tianjin still has the opportunity to develop, and these companies have the vision."
Meanwhile, Zong pledged that if the companies still have difficulties after receiving compensation from the insurance company, the government will assist and support them.
"They should trust the government. The government has the capacity," he said.
Wen Wurui, head of the Tianjin Bureau of Environmental Protection, said the incident has affected the environment to a certain extent, but it will not significantly influence human health, according to the data collected on the air and water.
Wen also said no nerve gas had been detected, dismissing a rumour that it had been found in the blast centre.
As for the removal of dangerous chemicals remaining at the blasts site, He said almost 200 experts, soldiers and owners of the substances are identifying and transferring the remaining chemicals.
Most of the sodium cyanide－which can be highly toxic when it meets water－that was scattered on the ground has been cleared, but there is some still remaining in containers.
"For safety reasons, the team can't work when it rains and during the night. And there is a great variety of chemicals and the placement is very complicated. We can't say when the cleanup work in the blast centre will be finished," he said.