China blast ware­house own­ers hid stakes in firm, says Xin­hua

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

The own­ers of a Chi­nese haz­ardous goods stor­age fa­cil­ity at the cen­ter of gi­ant ex­plo­sions — in­clud­ing the son of a for­mer po­lice chief — hid their stakes in the firm through friends, state media re­ported Wed­nes­day.

Ten ex­ec­u­tives from Tian­jin Rui Hai In­ter­na­tional were de­tained af­ter last week’s blasts in the north­ern port of Tian­jin, which trig­gered a gi­ant fire­ball and killed at least 114 peo­ple.

The blasts sparked fears over toxic pol­lu­tants in the city’s air and wa­ter, though author­i­ties have in­sisted both are safe.

Xin­hua News Agency was given ac­cess to some of the sus­pects and quoted them ex­ten­sively, as author­i­ties try to pin blame for the dis­as­ter on lo­cal of­fi­cials and in­di­vid­u­als and head off wider crit­i­cism of China’s one-party state.

Dong Shex­uan, 34, the son of the port’s for­mer po­lice chief, owned 45 per­cent of Rui Hai through a school­mate, Xin­hua re­ported. The rest was owned by Yu Xuewei, a for­mer ex­ec­u­tive at state-owned chem­i­cal com­pany Sinochem, but held in the name of a friend of his, it said.

“I had my school­mate hold shares for me be­cause of my fa­ther,” the of­fi­cial agency quoted Dong as say­ing. “If the news of me in­vest­ing in a busi­ness leaked, it could have brought bad in­flu­ence.”

Around 700 tonnes of highly toxic sodium cyanide were at the site, of­fi­cials have said.

Dong used his con­nec­tions in the po­lice and fire de­part­ments to help the com­pany ob­tain the nec­es­sary per­mits and pass in­spec­tions, Xin­hua said.

“My con­nec­tions are in po­lice and fire. When we needed a fire in­spec­tion, I went to meet with of­fi­cials at the Tian­jin port fire squad. I gave them the files and soon they gave me the ap­praisal,” Dong said, ac­cord­ing to Xin­hua.

Tian­jin Rui Hai In­ter­na­tional Lo­gis­tics op­er­ated with­out a li­cense for nine months to June, Xin­hua re­ported.

“Af­ter the first li­cense ex­pired, we ap­plied for an ex­ten­sion,” it quoted Yu as say­ing. “We did not cease op­er­a­tion be­cause we did not think it was a prob­lem. Many other com­pa­nies have con­tin­ued work­ing with­out a li­cense.”

Sinochem has two haz­ardous chem­i­cal ware­houses near the site of last week’s blast, ac­cord­ing to Green­peace. It said both vi­o­lated Chi­nese law re­quir­ing such fa­cil­i­ties to be at least 1,000 me­ters from public build­ings, ma­jor roads and residential.

The Rui Hai ware­house vi­o­lated the rule, state-run media pre­vi­ously re­ported, and Xin­hua said Wed­nes­day there were hous­ing blocks and a train sta­tion within 650 me­ters of it.

Dong and his part­ners found an ap­praisal com­pany that ig­nored the facts, the news agency said.

A cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the head of China’s work safety watchdog has also been an­nounced in the wake of the blasts.

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