Mystery surrounds Tianjin blasts warehouse

By Chen Xia
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, August 18, 2015
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An aerial photo taken on Aug. 14, 2015 shows a huge hole at the core area of explosion site in Tianjin, north China. The death toll from explosions occurred on Wednesday night rises to 85 as of Saturday morning. [Xinhua]

The massive warehouse explosions in north China's Tianjin City killed 114 people as of Monday afternoon, and the crisis is not over, as people are worried that hundreds tons of highly toxic sodium cyanide left at the explosion site may cause a secondary disaster and harm the environment and people's health.

The blasts also threw Ruihai International Logistics, the operator of the hazardous warehouse, into the public spotlight. But so far, little is known about the company.

The company's current manager Zhi Feng was found severely injured in the accident and was unable to speak. Its largest shareholder and previous manager Li Liang was nowhere to be found after the accident. Its second largest shareholder Shu Zheng claimed that his identity was used by others when Ruihai was founded.

Six days after the deadly accident, the company is still shrouded in mystery.

What does Ruihai do?

According to the company's business registration information, Ruihai International Logistics was registered at Dongjiang Free Trade Port Zone on Nov. 28, 2012. Its original business scope included warehousing, but it was not allowed to handle dangerous chemicals.

On May 4, 2013, the company got the approval from Tianjin Transportation and Port Administration and started to offer storage services for dangerous chemicals. On Jan. 29, 2015, Zhi Feng replaced Li Liang as the company's manager. On June 23, 2015, it obtained two crucial licenses -- the Port Business License and License for Handling Dangerous Goods at Ports.

But the problem is, under Chinese law, a company should obtain the two licenses before handling dangerous goods. This means that Ruihai was carrying out business illegally for two years.

Another problem with the company's business operations is that in July 2015, one month before the explosions, Ruihai appeared twice in a local business credibility blacklist, because it didn't release its annual business report in 2013 and 2014.

Normally, if a company fails to release its annual business report in time, it will be discovered and recorded in the blacklist immediately. This made the public wonder why Ruihai's abnormal conduct was not recorded at the appropriate time, and why it only appeared in the blacklist two years later.

Who's the real boss of Ruihai?

According to business registration information, Ruihai's two largest shareholders are Li Liang and Shu Zheng, who hold 55 percent and 45 percent of the company's shares respectively.

But as of Sunday, Li remained missing, while Shu told the media that he was only a grassroots public servant, and he lent his identity card to a friend when Ruihai was registered.

Shu refused to say who the friend was, but a rumor is going around that a man surnamed Dong was taken in by police after the accident, and Dong's father was the ex-police chief of Tianjin Port.

Whoever owns the company must have wide-ranging social contacts and know a lot of influential people, because obtaining the qualification for handling dangerous chemicals in the port is the most difficult, said an industry insider in Tianjin.

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