ChemChina says it caused deadly PVC plant explosion

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Photo by ChemChina

The explanation for a deadly 28 Nov explosion outside a Chinese PVC plant has shifted, with the company now saying a leak of vinyl chloride monomer caused a detonation that killed 23 people and injured more than 20 others.

In the days after the accident at the Hebei Shenghua Chemical Industry Co. complex in the city of Zhangjiakou, domestic media quoted investigators as saying a truck transporting hazardous chemicals was at fault. Initial reports said a truck ignited an explosion that ripped through 50 vehicles waiting to deliver goods to the chemical complex in the early morning hours.

But on 30 Nov, Shenghua's parent company, China National Chemical Corp., or ChemChina, issued a statement saying that the explosion was caused by a vinyl chloride leak from its factory.

In the statement, the company apologised to the victims, their families and the community, and said the incident reflected serious problems in safety management that it would correct.

China's official Xinhua news agency said the country's National Administration for Work Safety Emergency Response would launch inspections of all large-scale chemical plant plants in the wake of the Shenghua explosion.

ChemChina also owns German plastics machinery maker KraussMaffei AG.

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