China: Deadly Chemical 'Mostly Cleaned Up' Today

But residents are upset with the government's lack of communication
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2015 8:35 AM CDT
In this Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015 file photo, smoke billows from the site of an explosion in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality.   (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)
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(Newser) – Chinese officials are hoping to calm residents of Tianjin, declaring lingering sodium-cyanide residue near the site of Wednesday's blasts—which caused evacuations of up to 90,000 people within a 3-mile radius, per Reuters and CNN—will "mostly be cleaned up" by later today, when rain could help it spread. Officials are trying to neutralize the chemical with hydrogen peroxide; they say no official has fallen ill yet, reports USA Today. An estimated 700 tons of sodium cyanide, which can be fatal if ingested or inhaled, were stored at a warehouse complex near residential areas, against Chinese law, reports Time. Angry residents are demanding answers. "Are the officials corrupt, or what?" says one. "Why did they build a hazardous chemical warehouse near our home without telling us? Who would want to live next to a ticking time bomb? No one!"

The People's Daily reported over the weekend that Rui Hai International Logistics, which owns the warehouses, was perhaps smuggling chemicals; an employee of sodium cyanide producer Hebei Chengxin Co. says chemicals were stored at the warehouses before being sent overseas and the company "did not violate any laws." A rep from Tianjin's Work Safety Administration adds at least one warehouse was a temporary storage facility for materials that arrived at the port and were to be moved elsewhere. China's top prosecutor "will look into possible illegal acts, such as abuse of power or dereliction of duty and deal with those acts which may constitute crimes," Reuters reports. At least 114 people died in the tragedy. Another 95 people, including 85 firefighters, are missing, and more than 720 people remain hospitalized.

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