Cyanide 356 times lim­its found at China blast test point: of­fi­cials

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Cyanide lev­els more than 350 times stan­dard lim­its have been de­tected in wa­ter close to the site of deadly ex­plo­sions in the Chi­nese port city of Tian­jin, of­fi­cials said Thurs­day.

The Tian­jin en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion bureau said the chem­i­cal was de­tected at 25 wa­ter mon­i­tor­ing sites within the cor­doned-off area around the blast site on Wed­nes­day.

“An ex­ces­sive level of cyanide was de­tected in eight lo­ca­tions with the high­est reach­ing 356 times” the per­mit­ted level, the bureau said.

Author­i­ties have pre­vi­ously said that cyanide tests had shown lev­els 28 times lim­its. The en­vi­ron­men­tal bureau state­ment did not ex­plain the sud­den spike higher.

Of the 16 test points out­side the alert area, cyanide was de­tected at six, but all be­low the nor­mal limit, the en­vi­ron­ment bureau said.

The blasts at a haz­ardous goods stor­age fa­cil­ity last week trig­gered a gi­ant fire­ball and killed at least 114 peo­ple. More than 60 oth­ers are miss­ing, with seven of the re­cov­ered bod­ies yet to be iden­ti­fied.

The ex­plo­sions have also sparked fears of toxic pol­lu­tants con­tam­i­nat­ing the air and wa­ter of the city, which has a pop­u­la­tion of around 15 mil­lion peo­ple.

About 700 tonnes of highly poi­sonous sodium cyanide were at the site, of­fi­cials have said.

Sodium cyanide, which has a va­ri­ety of in­dus­trial uses in­clud­ing gold min­ing, is a toxic white crys­tal or pow­der. It can re­lease hy­dro­gen cyanide gas, used in gas cham­ber ex­e­cu­tions in the U. S..

Acute ex­po­sure at lower con­cen­tra­tions can cause weak­ness, nau­sea and eye and skin ir­ri­ta­tion while chronic ex­po­sure can af­fect the car­dio­vas­cu­lar and cen­tral ner­vous sys­tems, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency.

Main­land chi­nese State broad­caster CCTV re­ported that the av­er­age level of cyanide in the wa­ter fill­ing a huge crater at the cen­tre of the blast site was more than 40 times av­er­age.

“All the pol­luted wa­ter is con­tained in the cor­doned off area,” en­vi­ron­ment pro­tec­tion of­fi­cial Tian Weiy­ong told re­porters. “We won’t drain it un­til we clean it up.”

Re­cov­ery per­son­nel have built a dam of sand and earth around the blasts’ cen­tral 100,000- square- me­ter “core area” to pre­vent pol­lu­tant leak­age, and of­fi­cials in­sist air and wa­ter are safe.

But lo­cals openly ex­press doubts and in­ter­na­tional en­vi­ron­men­tal en­vi­ron­ment group Green­peace has urged cau­tion.

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and other top lead­ers called Thurs­day for those re­spon­si­ble to be held ac­count­able, the state-run Xin­hua news agency re­ported.

Main­land Chi­nese state media have re­ported that 10 ex­ec­u­tives from Tian­jin Rui Hai In­ter­na­tional, the com­pany that op­er­ated the ware­house stor­ing the dan­ger­ous chem­i­cals, were de­tained af­ter the blasts.

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