China: Explosions at Tianjin Ruihai Intl. Logistics warehouse kill over 100
On 17 August, explosions at a chemical warehouse of Rui Hai International Logistics in Tianjin killed 114 people and 698 people have been hospitalized, according to official figures. The day after the blasts, the president and vice-chairman of the company were detained by authorities, according to local media reports.
At least three residential developments were built within one kilometer from the site of the explosions despite government regulations on protective zoning for the storage of hazardous materials. The local government did not respond to reporters' questions why Ruihai was able to obtain certificates to operate despite the violation of the proximity rules. In 2012, residents had reportedly protested against the construction of chemical plants handling highly toxic materials in Tianjin's Binhai area, saying the proximity of the to residential areas would pose risks.
Xinhua news reported that the warehouse received a licence to handle hazardous chemicals only two months before the disaster, and that the company continued to work with hazardous chemicals, despite not having legal permits to handle dangerous materials between October 2014 and June 2015.
After the explosion, authorities and residents are concerned that the rain will react with large amounts of toxic materials (e.g. sodium cyanide) at the site to cause further damage to health of the community.
In addition to the warehouse at the center of the explosion, another warehouse controlled by Sinochem Group was also found to be located just over 500 meters away from a residential district.