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Working to control contaminants in Tianjin

Many people are concerned about the handling of dangerous chemicals stored at the area of the blasts and fire. CCTV reporter talked with an expert from the Ministry of Environmental Protection about how deadly chemicals are being dealt with.

Li Xingchun, Expert from Ministry of Environmental Protection said:“One measure is to use Hydrogen Peroxide. It works to remove Cyanide. Through a kind of oxidation reaction, the Cyanide will be oxidized to cyanate. And cyanate will further oxidize to hydroxide, then it will subside.”

Li explained that though Cyanide is highly toxic, it is normally in crystalline solid-state or a powder. But when Cyanide meets water or is burned it releases hydrogen cyanide, a highly toxical chemical that interferes with the body’s ability to use oxygen and can be rapidly fatal. Li believes any potential problem can be effectively dealt with using proven techniques, such as using hydrogen peroxide.

All three water discharge points from the blast zone to the sea have been shut off. The water is being tested in several locations, including a sewage treatment plant, the sea and river outside the quarantine area. Although cyanide has been detected in sewage pipes, drinking water has not been affected as it uses separate pipes.

“For Cyanide that gets in the sewer system and in the rain, we use an alkaline chlorination process. We are already doing this. It’s a two-step process. First we use hydrogen peroxide to oxidize Cyanide, and then we further oxidize it to carbon dioxide and nitrogen,” said Li.