Economic and environmental toll of Tianjin blasts emerging

World Today

Drone footage from Tianjin fire authorities show the blast site of the explosion after the fire was extinguished.

As China continues to mourn the loss of 114 in last week’s Tianjin blasts, the environmental and economic toll from the Tianjin warehouse explosion have begun to emerge.

Dangerous chemicals have been found at the monitoring sites in the warehouse at the center of the explosions, but local authorities said on Wednesday that the water outside of the quarantined area is within normal levels.

[flagallery gid=161]

Sodium cyanide was detected at 25 monitoring stations – eight of them surpassing the standards, said Bao Jingling, Chief engineer of Tianjin Environmental Protection Bureau.

“The highest is 277 times above the standard from rainwater drainage tubes, and they are all within the quarantined area,” he said, adding that of the 14 monitoring sites outside the quarantined area, all water is within the normal standards.

Sodium cyanide was one of the highly toxic chemicals that was stored at the warehouse when the blasts occurred. When mixed with water, the chemical can quickly hydrolyze and produce toxic gas.

READ MORE TIANJIN COVERAGE

Meanwhile insured losses from the blasts are likely to range from $1 billion to $1.5 billion, according to a Fitch Ratings report released Tuesday.

Tianjin port, which accounts for nearly 50 percent of all vehicles imported into China, has been degenerated into what Chinese newspaper The Times Weekly called a “graveyard for cars”.

Nearly 10,000 imported cars stored near the blast-affected zone, including Volkswagen, BMW, Jaguar and Renault, are severely damaged, with losses as high as 400 million yuan ($62 million), according to China National Radio.

Meanwhile, property developers are looking at losses of up to $156 million, while a fall of confidence in the market is expected to have a lasting negative affect.

Around 17,000 households were damaged, from broken doors and window frames to theft. A number of suspected shoplifters raiding abandoned houses have been handed over to local police, Xinhua reported.

TIANJIN MAYOR TAKES RESPONSIBILITY FOR BLASTS

Tianjin6

Tianjin Mayor Huang Xingguo said Wednesday that he bears responsibility for last week’s fatal blasts, the Global Times reported.

“As the chief of Tianjin Party committee and municipal government, I have an unshirkable responsibility,” Huang said at a press conference.

He also paid tribute to the victims and said he had been absent from previous conferences because he was busy directing the rescue work. He added that the government would continue the search for the missing.

Huang also said the government would recognize firefighters who died in the line of duty. He proposed to build a memorial park at the blast site for them, the newspaper reported.

He also pledged zero-tolerance for the company and personnel responsible for the blasts, “no matter who he is and what guanxi (connection) he has.”

ENVIRONMENTAL TESTING CONTINUES

Tianjin3

Bao Jingling, of Tianjin Environmental Protection Bureau, said that air quality in the city remains at normal levels, and indicated that the white foam people saw after Tuesday’s rain was nothing abnormal.

“We believe the white foam might be caused by dust from the blasts. So far, our monitoring data has been staying at normal levels,” Bao said.

Meanwhile, experts said that if they find any safety risks in the air and water quality, they will immediately inform the public in order to ensure a fast evacuation. They also said that the monitoring of soil will begin soon as part of their comprehensive monitoring plan.

Party Secretary of the Binzhou New District Zong Guoying also assured the public that no trace of nerve gas was found at the site of the blasts.

Responding to a reporter’s question about reports on the presence of nerve gas at the site, Zong said: “we have not found that kind of chemical.”

He also said that monitoring reports in the first few days following the blasts showed a high concentration of pollutants and volatile organic matters, estimated at 1.5 times the national standard. However, those figures have fallen since then.

Tianjin Environmental Protection Bureau Director Wen Wurui also said that their team will continue to monitor air quality every two hours and results of their monitoring will be available on their website.

Most crucially, he added that despite pollutants being released from the blast being harmful for the environment, their examinations had revealed that there would be no palpable impact on human bodies.

RESIDENTS WANT COMPENSATION

Tianjin 5

Many Tianjin residents are demanding the government buy back their uninhabitable houses.

The government of Bin Hai district, where the port is sited, has agreed to buy back the houses deemed unsuitable for living after proper assessment.

Zong Guoying said that the government has set up a service center to coordinate the residential housing that has been damaged.

He added that they were offering temporary resettlement fees while damages are being evaluated. The government, he said, will be inviting third-party assessment institutions to evaluate the damages.

DRONE FOOTAGE CAPTURES BLAST AFTERMATH

Drone footage shows Tianjin warehouse blast aftermath

Footage shot by a drone recording the aftermath of the disastrous Tianjin warehouse blasts, which happened on August 12, was released by Chinese firefighters on Tuesday.

A series of drone footage recording the aftermath of the warehouse blasts was released by Chinese firefighters on Tuesday. Firefighters sent out drones to the site about five hours after the blast to monitor the spread of the fire and assist in putting it out.

Footage shot on Aug. 13 shows there were still flames and heavy smoke at the blast site. A day later, the fire appeared to be reduced to heavy smoke, including black, gray and white smoke. The blast site was then filled with water.

As of 7 p.m. local time on Aug. 15, the fire was under control and only a few white and gray smoke was seen coming from containers.

The footage shows that firefighters were still spraying water on areas with heavy smoke on Sunday and Monday.

Story by CCTV News, with information from China Daily and the Global Times.