Beijing and Shanghai launch inspections of hazardous chemical companies after fire at Shanghai ethylene glycol plant
Published: Jun 19, 2022 09:21 PM
Photo: Screenshot of Weibo video
Screenshot of  video showing the fire broke out Saturday morning at an ethylene glycol plant area operated by Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Company on June 18 Source: Sina Weibo

Emergency authorities in China's two metropolises, Beijing and Shanghai, decided to carry out citywide inspections of hazardous chemical companies from Sunday to identify potential risks, after a fire caused by a dangerous chemical explosion in Shanghai.

The fire broke out Saturday morning at an ethylene glycol plant area operated by Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Company, a subsidiary of China's largest state-owned petrochemical enterprise Sinopec, killing one person and injuring another slightly.

There was a loud explosion followed by a pungent smell, before the whole plant was engulfed in black smoke, local media quoted residents nearby as saying.

Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Company on Sunday expressed deep condolences to the victims of the fire and expressed deep sympathy to the injured and the families of the victims, as cleanup work is underway.

The inspections mainly involve dangerous chemical manufacturers, oil depots, gas stations in key areas, chemical companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers and other operators with storage facilities, Beijing emergency authorities said in a statement.

Both Beijing and Shanghai are focusing their inspections on the safe handling of hazardous chemicals, the implementation of management systems, the maintenance of safety facilities and risk prevention mechanisms, read the statement.

Moreover, extreme weather such as high temperatures, heavy rain and lightning are more likely during the current flood season, and Shanghai faces the risk of typhoons, which can have adverse effects on the operation of chemical plants, as well as the production and storage of hazardous chemicals.

Emergency authorities will focus on the handling of chemical enterprises and institutions in emergency situations, especially safety education and training for principals and key positions.

Measures will be taken to ensure the rectification of safety risks identified, and inspectors will suspend production or close down enterprises in accordance with the law if issues that are identified cannot be rectified immediately in order to effectively strengthen the safety supervision of hazardous chemical enterprises and resolutely prevent the occurrence of accidents, local authorities said in the notice.

No contamination of the surrounding environment has been found and the company is assessing the impact of the accident on its production and operation, according to a statement issued by Shanghai Petrochemical on Sunday.

The company's No.1 ethylene glycol unit has an annual production capacity of 255,000 tons, and the unit can switch production of ethylene glycol and ethylene oxide products according to market conditions. Sales revenue of the products accounted for 1.16 percent of the company's operating revenue in 2021.

Global Times