(From Radio Free Asia)
Rescue teams and environmental experts struggled amid rain on Tuesday to clean up thousands of tons of water polluted by last week’s massive explosions in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin, while the city mourned the 114 people known to have died in the disaster.
Tens of thousands of tons of contaminated water is believed to remain at the warehouse and container area that were ripped apart by fires and two huge explosions, while the current downpour could make decontamination still harder, official media reported.
Water tested at eight of the 40 water monitoring stations near the blast area were found to contain excessive amounts of cyanide, with some samples containing 28.4 times more than the standard, Tianjin’s chief environmental protection engineer Bao Jingling was quoted as saying.
Officials have estimated that hundreds of tons of toxic sodium cyanide were stored near the blast site, and construction teams are using a cofferdam to prevent contaminated rainwater from running off the site, state news agency Xinhua reported.
There are also fears that rain might set off chemical reactions with the scattered chemicals and release toxic gases, Bao said.
A Tianjin resident surnamed Zhao told RFA she was afraid to go outside, for fear of pollution.
“Just think what could happen when the rain hits those dangerous chemicals; a lot of them are all over the ground,” Zhao said. “I have shut tight the windows and I don’t open the door much.”
“If there is poison in the air, a face mask is no use; I saw that on social media,” she said. “If you breathe it in, you can get a chronic disease.”
“We’re not going out now, and anyone who gets rained on comes back and takes a shower as soon as they can; that’s all we are thinking about right now,” Zhao said. Read more