Trust in PX project safety must be upheld

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-4-8 0:58:01

A severe blast occurred in a paraxylene (PX) facility in a chemical plant in China's Zhangzhou city, Fujian Province. Three storage tanks exploded, sparking a fire. The chemical defense corps of People's Liberation Army troops stationed nearby was sent to battle the accident. As of Tuesday morning, a total of six people were known to be injured, among which five were hurt by broken glass. They have been sent to hospital for treatment, and there were no reports of fatalities.

PX projects have been a big headache for China. They have met strong public opposition in a large number of areas and have caused the "not in my backyard" effect. The accident in Zhangzhou might further raise doubts and make it more difficult to set up such projects in the future.

But a rational mind is important at this time, because the truth is that China needs more PX manufacturing bases. It is impossible for a large country like China to completely depend on imports when it comes to the huge demand for chemical materials. It is also impossible to rely on other countries to determine the future of our chemical industry. Whenever we encounter a problem, we need to solve it.

This accident in Zhangzhou must be thoroughly and rigorously investigated and examined. There are reports claiming that the plant was hit by another explosion two years ago. Questions have emerged over why an even more severe blast happened now.

The public has the right to know, and agencies have the obligation to investigate and inform the people in a timely manner. In addition, the plant should honor its legal responsibility over this blast and pay compensation. The more transparently we handle the issue, the more likely we are to reassure our public, and strengthen public confidence over the security as well as the reliability of the PX projects.

Such a huge blast should never happen. The disaster may have been caused by poor management.

The government and authorities must face the inquiries from the public. Since there are no deaths or toxic leaks this time, this incident is different from people's preconceptions of chemical accidents. If the authorities can report on it objectively, it will help them in gaining not only public trust, but also building up a scientific spirit over the PX projects.

PX projects have been the constant target of mockery by cyber opinion, and the accident that happened in Zhangzhou has been exploited to exaggerate the danger of having such programs nearby. Exaggerations like this are divorced from the reality of social development and the long-term benefits that a local community needs.

That said, this accident must undergo serious investigation, from which stricter program management and risk control mechanisms should be established.

But the result, however, needs to be the expansion of PX programs, not the dismantling of them.

Posted in: Editorial

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