Cyanide in Tianjin waters 277 times over the limit

SHANGHAI (TIP): Chinese authorities warned that cyanide levels in the waters around the Tianjin Port explosion site had risen to as much as 277 times acceptable levels although they declared the city’s potable water was safe.

The local government, under pressure from China’s leaders in Beijing to improve industrial safety, also said it would relocate chemical plants away from the area, where thousands of residents were forced to evacuate last week after the release of toxic chemicals by explosions that killed 114 people.

China’s ruling Politburo Standing Committee called on all levels of governments during a special meeting on Thursday to do more to implement and monitor industrial safety rules, the official Xinhua agency reported.

A report from the Tianjin Environmental Protection Bureau issued on Wednesday said that tests conducted the day before showed that cyanide levels in the river, sea and waste water in the evacuated area around the explosion site had risen sharply since the deadly blasts. One testing site at the mouth of a rain water pipe recorded cyanide levels 277 times above acceptable standards. Drinking water in Tianjin, however, met national standards, according to a separate statement from health authorities on Tuesday.

The government has confirmed there were about 700 tonnes of the deadly chemical sodium cyanide in the warehouse that blew up late last Wednesday. Tianjin, the world’s 10th-busiest port, will relocate chemical plants from the Tianjin Binhai New Area where the blasts occurred to the Nangang Industrial Zone, 25 kms away, according to the official China Daily, citing Tianjin mayor Huang Xingguo.

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