China / Society

Qingdao mayor: move chemical plants from residences

By Hu Yongqi ( Updated: 2014-03-07 14:31

Zhang Xinqi, the mayor of Qingdao city in Shandong province, said Huangdao district, where a fatal pipeline blast claimed 62 lives on Nov 22, will be rebuilt as part of a free-trade port.

Zhang said the work safety watchdog of the State Council has closed the case by punishing those in charge of the pipelines. "Huangdao imports 70 million metric tons of raw oil, about 12 percent of China's total importation. That's why a plan from a bigger picture should be made to separate chemical plants and pipelines from residential complexes," Zhang said.

The accident was a consequence of drilling operations by repair workers that caused an explosion, and was fuelled by oil that leaked from a pipeline owned by a subsidiary of Sinopec, the country's largest oil refiner, according to a report by the watchdog in January. The blast killed 62 people, injured another 136 and caused a direct economic loss of 751.72 million yuan ($123 million), according to the report.

Currently, the city government and work safety authorities are keeping a close eye on how the plants are run in a secure manner, Zhang said. Huangdao district will be an outlying area of a free-trade zone at the Qingdao Port, for which the application is being processed by the central government, he said. "The district will focus on the high-end service industry in the future, even though we have some difficulties to complete such a giant plan."

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