Emergency response system need improving for chemical accidents
GOV.cn Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Special Report: Environment Protection

"China lacks the facilities to cope with chemical accidents," according to Chen Shanrong, deputy director of the Environmental Protection Inspection Department with the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).

No professional investigative and impact evaluation experience of chemical accidents has been accumulated and put into application, Chen said on Wednesday at the "Sino-German Symposium on Chemical Management".

Some provinces and most of China's cities and counties have failed to set up emergency response systems in this field, he said.

Supervision and management of hazardous chemicals involve 10 ministries in China, with the transportation department responsible for the delivery and the police department supervising the production.

With no smooth information exchanges, different departments cannot cooperate effectively in face of chemical accidents and miss the best opportunities to prevent casualties and pollution, Chen said.

China is a large importer and exporter of chemicals and pesticides. There are now more than 200,000 enterprises engaged in production, transportation and treatment of hazardous chemicals.

Last year, China reported 142 chemical accidents, resulting in 229 deaths, down 51 and 62 respectively from the previous year.

In the biggest disaster yet, a spill of nitrobenzene and other chemicals into the Songhua River in November forced Harbin, the biggest city in the northeast, to suspend running water to 3.8 million people for five days.

Chen called for the training of expert teams to cope with chemical accidents through field maneuvers.

Information bridges must be built between enterprises and the government as well as between environment, police, fire control, water conservation and meteorology departments, Chen said.

The symposium was held by SEPA, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and the German Technical Cooperation.

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Editor: Yang Lei
Source: Xinhua