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City vows to monitor pollution

Updated: 2015-08-18 07:36
By Zheng Jinran (China Daily)

Authorities say sodium cyanide to be neutralized, taken from blast zone

Tianjin has committed to careful monitoring of air and soil pollution as it works to remove tons of sodium cyanide and water contaminated by cyanide at the site of last week's warehouse explosion, officials said on Monday.

The city has installed 27 monitoring stations near the blast zone to check water quality. Seventeen of those, all located within 3 kilometers of the main explosion, had detected cyanide since Sunday, the city's environmental protection official said.

Three stations located in the core zone had recorded excessive concentrations of cyanide, with one registering 27 times the national standards, Bao Jingling, chief engineer of the Tianjin Environmental Protection Bureau, said on Monday at a news conference.

Cyanide detected in the remaining 14 stations was within the safe range, Bao said.

Crews sought to remove the tainted water before fore-cast rain arrived in order to minimize any additional pollution threats.

"We have already made plans and kept close monitoring on the rainfall and this situation," Bao said. Showers were forecast for Tianjin on Tuesday and in the following days.

Control of 700 metric tons of sodium cyanide stored at the blast area also is necessary before the rainfall to prevent the spread of pollution from the core blast zone to neighboring areas, said Chen Jining, minister of environmental protection.

Cleanup of the sodium cyanide within a 3-kilometer radius of the core blast zone was to be completed by Monday night, said He Shushan, deputy mayor. But whether the work had been finished was not confirmed by 9 o'clock on Monday night.

After the cleanup, the surrounding region would not be at risk from the toxic chemical, even after rainfall, He said.

Days after the blast, which killed at least 114 people, nearby residents remained concerned about the safety of the environment, as the Ruihai International Logistics Co port facility stored many dangerous chemicals.

Cui, a woman in her 40s who lived in Lanwan community, about 1.3 kilometers from the core blast zone, was among those questioning the validity of the monitoring data.

Bao sought to reassure residents, saying there were many facilities monitoring the air and water and there was "no possibility of making false data" under the current intense scrutiny.

Officials said the air quality was safe and the air quality monitoring stations had only detected excessive hydrogen sulfide, which was 8 percent higher than national standards on Sunday.

The monitoring data showed no evidence of combustible gas or volatile organic compounds at the core blast zone as of Monday morning, Xinhua News Agency reported.

(China Daily 08/18/2015 page3)

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