China's Tianjin to relocate chemicals firms after blasts

China's Tianjin to relocate chemicals firms after blasts
Fire and smoke rising after massive explosions hit the city of Tianjin in August 2015. Chinese police have arrested 12 people over giant explosions that killed at least 145 people and devastated a swathe of a Chinese port city, state media said on August 27, 2015 as prosecutors probe 11 officials for neglecting their duties.
PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Hazardous chemical companies in the Chinese port city of Tianjin will be moved to an industrial zone far from the site of deadly warehouse explosions in August in the city's development area, state media reported on Wednesday.

The frequency of industrial accidents, and the explosions that killed more than 160 people in Tianjin's Binhai New Area in August, have raised questions about safety standards following three decades of breakneck economic growth in China.

Firms handling dangerous chemicals will be relocated to the Nangang Industrial Zone about 30 kilometres (19 miles) from the blast site and at least 10 kilometres from the nearest residential area, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing local officials.

Nangang aims to become a "world-class port and base for the heavy chemical industry", Xinhua said.

"A third-party organisation will be authorised to enact and release evaluation reports on the environment, safety and ecology," the news agency said without giving further details.

Tianjin officials came under criticism in the wake of the blasts, which flattened part of one of the world's busiest ports.

Hundreds of residents had protested, demanding compensation for apartment buildings that were closer to the warehouse than allowed by Chinese regulations on the storage of dangerous materials.

China's state prosecutor has said an investigation of the blasts found officials from a range of agencies, including Tianjin's transport, land resources, work safety and customs offices, had been irresponsible, negligent and lax in the supervision.

Chemical facilities explosions are relatively common in China and blasts have killed people since the Tianjin disaster, which spurred nationwide shutdowns and safety checks.

A blast occurred at a Tianjin alcohol materials warehouse on Monday, although no casualties were initially reported.

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