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Tianjin Operations Too Close for Comfort

Tianjin

Published Aug 21, 2015 6:43 PM by The Maritime Executive

One week after the explosions that killed more than 114 people, Port Tianjin is resuming operations. But shippers do not appear to be willing to restart operations at the port. Automakers Toyota, Volkswagen and BMW are diverting shipments to Dalian and Shanghai ports. About forty percent of China’s auto imports enter through Tianjin.

The explosion exposed safety issues regarding hazardous chemical storage and shipments at the port, which are near residential areas. The warehouse at the center of the explosions was too close to schools, highways and a hospital. There were also two other chemical storage facilities in the area that are too close to the protected areas.

China’s national safety regulations forbid establishing large warehouses storing hazardous chemicals within a kilometer of public and residential buildings as well as transportation lines.

Government officials are unsure how Riuhai Logistics Co Ltd, which transports and stores chemicals at the port, got its operations license within the one-kilometer of the protected zone. There is speculation that Riuahi may have bribed officials to obtain the licenses.

Riuhai’s executives have been arrested for falsifying permits. Investigations reveal the company handled hazardous chemicals from October 2014 to June 2015 without proper licenses.

Tianjin’s Port Group has denied ties to Riuhai beyond the port. But, reports indicate that the Port Group is one of the organizations that approved Riuhai warehouse facilities.  The Port Group typically decides what companies operate in the port.

The Tianjin Municipal Transport Commission has issued notices that the port cease handling commercial vessels transporting hazardous substances.