Blasts Expose the Dangerous Proximity of Toxic Chemicals in China

"The warehouse in Tianjin that exploded on Aug. 12 was one of many buildings across China that store toxic chemicals near residential areas or major roads, in violation of safety regulations, according to a review of satellite imagery and public records."

"Highways and schools all over China are near warehouses licensed to handle hazardous substances.

According to Chinese officials, the warehouse in Tianjin, a major port city, stored at least 700 tons of one common deadly chemical, sodium cyanide, used in mining to separate gold and silver from rock.

After the deadly explosions, residents of Tianjin have been gripped by fear and uncertainty over the presence of toxic chemicals in the city’s air and water, setting off a national debate about hidden safety hazards along the supply route for sodium cyanide.

Chinese regulations forbid facilities with hazardous chemicals to operate less than one kilometer (two-thirds of a mile) from public buildings and major roads."

Patrick Boehler, Josh Keller, K.K. Rebecca Lai, Vanessa Piao, and Crystal Tse report for the New York Times August 21, 2015.

Source: NY Times, 08/24/2015