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China continues efforts to eliminate toxic chemicals

Updated: Aug 18,2015 10:20 AM

The death toll has risen to 114 after two more bodies were found in the debris. More than 700 people have been injured in the blasts and 70 others remain missing, most of them firefighters. Conor Gallagher takes a look at the details of the on-going clean-up effort and more.

Five days after the blasts, the top mission is moving to cleaning up the area. A chemical biological incident response force and a leak treatment team are advancing their search for hazardous substances.

A sand and stone cofferdam has been put in place within a 500-meter perimeter of ground zero. So far, work in the area within a distance of 2 kilometers from the blast site has been done. And screening in a larger area is underway. But things are more complicated than that.

“There are some 18 thousand containers around the blast center...they may contaminated by toxic chemicals. We’ve finished clearing outside of the containers and we’ll start clearing the inside part of the containers from today,” He Shushan, deputy head of Tianjin Municipal Government, said.

The goal is to wipe out all of the chemicals before any rain falls. Among thousands of questions concerning the blasts, the one that most urgently needs an answer is how bad is the environment around the explosion site.

“Results from seven mobile environment and air quality monitoring stations outside the evacuation zone from the blast site showed that there were no sign of new pollutants,” Bao Jingling, retired official of Tianjin Environmental Protection Bureau, said.

The explosions have affected 17 thousand households and 17-hundred businesses. At least 6 thousand residents have been displaced.

The State Council established an investigation team and there are a lot of answers for the team to figure out: what was the cause of the blast, whether Ruihai International Logistics Cooperation violated the law and when the thousand of residents displaced by the explosions can have their normal lives backs.