Crews clean up foul water at blast site

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An aerial view of the Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical Co in Xiangshui county, Yancheng, Jiangsu province, after the explosion on March 21. [WANG JING/CHINA DAILY]

Environment officers were busy preventing the spread of polluted water inside an industrial park in Jiangsu province that was hit by a deadly blast last week.

Priority had been given to the treatment of wastewater in the exploded chemical plant and the huge pit the explosion generated, according to a release from the Ministry of Ecology and Environment on Friday.

The deadly blast occurred at about 2:48 pm on March 21 following a fire in a plant owned by Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical Co. The accident has left at least 78 dead and more than 600 injured.

Alkali had been thrown into the waste water to neutralize its acidity so that the polluted water could flow to a nearby treatment plant via a pipeline. Otherwise, the wastewater would erode the pipeline, according to a working team the ministry dispatched to the site.

Environment officers have also begun to process the pollution in the Xinfeng River - the most polluted water body in the park after the explosion - to prevent it from contaminating waters outside the park, according to the release.

The construction of the pipeline connecting the river and the Yulang chemical sewage treatment plant was completed on Thursday night, it said.

"The priority in the team's work is to handle the wastewater resulting from the explosion and to closely monitor nearby rivers and other water bodies to ensure that not even a single drop of untreated water will be discharged into the external environment of the park," the release said.

According to the work plan, all polluted water would be temporarily stored at the Yulang chemical sewage treatment plant before being processed to meet national standards.

In addition to 50 environmental experts, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment has also dispatched more than 200 environment monitoring officers to the site, according to the ministry.

Environment officers detected benzene concentrations in the air of 2.04 milligrams per cubic meter at a monitoring point 1 kilometer downwind from the explosion site at 10 am on Wednesday, a level about 17.5 times more than the national standard.

But at 10 am on Thursday and Friday, the benzene concentration at the same point was within the standard, according to the Ecology and Environment Department of Jiangsu.

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