Fujian chemical leak sickens 52 residents, causes salt panic-buying

By Liu Caiyu Source:Global Times Published: 2018/11/8 19:38:40

The water in Quangang, East China's Fujian Province is contaminated with pollutants after a vessel spilled nearly 7 tons of C9 aromatics over the weekend. Photo: IC

 A Chemical leak in Quanzhou, East China's Fujian Province has sent at least 52 residents to hospitals and caused a panic purchase of salt in nearby cities after some 7 tons of C9 aromatics were spilled over the weekend.

C9 is a type of aromatic hydrocarbon resin chemically manufactured from oil. It is typically used to produce adhesives, printing ink and paint, and is toxic to humans.

By 5pm Thursday, the Quangang district hospital in Quanzhou has received 52 patients who might have been exposed to the chemical. Ten people have been hospitalized, including one person who nearly drowned in the polluted water and was later taken into intensive care, the local government announced on Thursday

A staff member from the government of Quangang district reached by the Global Times on Thursday confirmed that some locals were sent to hospitals but could not say whether their conditions were related to the contamination.

C9 could irritate the eyes, nose and lungs and cause headaches and dizziness, Science and Technology Daily reported.

"The chemicals have been cleaned up, but residue remained in some sections of the water, which will take long time to clean," the government staff member said.

The leak took place at 1:14 am early Sunday when the tube connecting a vessel and the wharf broke, leaking 6.97 tons of C9 aromatics in the water, Beijing Youth Daily reported.

The local authority announced it had cleaned up the waters on Monday. However, some locals told the Global Times on Thursday that a foul and pungent odor remained in the air near the wharf, causing many to have sore throat and dizzy spells.

"The pungent odor in the air prevents us from breathing normally. We have to wear masks," a supermarket owner surnamed Xiao living near the wharf told the Global Times. Xiao did not allow his daughter to attend school on Thursday because of the odor.

The nearby Shanyao Salt Plant, claimed to be the second national salt farm in Fujian Province, confirmed to the Global Times on Thursday that they had stopped taking in seawater since hearing of the incident on Sunday.

The plant is operating normally with its existing supply. It will open if the water is tested safe, a staff member said.

However, a resident of Fujian's Longyan, a city near Quanzhou, told the Global Times on Thursday that supermarket salt shelves were emptied as residents scoured for salt in the wake of the incident. 

To ensure safety, the local agriculture and forestry bureau on Sunday urged the public not to catch, sell or eat seafood from Xiaocuo village in Quanzhou, China News Service reported.

Beijing Youth Daily reported that the Fujian Donggang Petrochemical Industry Company has apologized and promised to compensate fishermen.

Atmospheric indicators from the monitoring stations have reached normal levels as of Wednesday and the air is improving, according to Quangang government on Thursday.


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