A hose from an oil tanker owned by the petrochemical company ruptured while offloading chemicals－mostly of hydrocarbon solvents— at a wharf in Quanzhou's Quangang district on Nov. 4. (Photo/China News Service)
10 people were hospitalized after being sickened; 1 discharged
Four people from the Fujian Donggang Petrochemical Industry, the company responsible for the chemical leak on Nov 4 in Quanzhou, Fujian province, are being investigated by police over the incident, the local government said in a statement on Friday night.
All 152 families in the area, whose fish farms were polluted by the chemical, have finished registering with the authorities, and government evaluations of their losses, and the amount of compensation owed, are underway, the statement said.
The local government will supervise the process and has urged the company to compensate the families' losses as promised in an apology issued on Nov 4.
The chemical leak poses no threat to human health if the exposure time and amount is low, according to experts quoted on Saturday.
While the major cleanup has been completed, chemical residue might still be present on reefs, along shorelines and on fishing equipment, occasionally giving off a faint unpleasant odor. The experts advised the government to step up ecological repair efforts and improve the local aquacultural environment.
Such efforts could include cleaning up residues, replacing fishing gear that was heavily contaminated, monitoring the content of the leaked chemical in surrounding air and water, utilizing the ocean's dispersal capability to sweep away the pollution, and introducing native species to restore ecological balance.
The expert team included researchers from the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, the State Oceanic Administration's Third Institute of Oceanography, China University of Petroleum and Fuzhou University in Fujian.
A hose from an oil tanker owned by the petrochemical company ruptured while offloading chemicals－mostly of hydrocarbon solvents— at a wharf in Quanzhou's Quangang district on Nov 4.
Around 7 metric tons of aliphatic hydrocarbon solvents leaked into the water, and the subsequent air and water pollution sent 52 nearby residents to the hospital. Ten of them required hospitalization, including one who fell into the contaminated water.
As of Friday afternoon, one of the hospitalized patients had fully recovered and had been discharged. The remaining patients are recovering fast, the local government said.
Aliphatic hydrocarbon solvents are oily, pungent chemical compounds typically derived from the oil refining process. Toxicity is similar to gasoline, and can cause irritation if exposed to human skin, eyes or respiratory tracts, experts said.
Heat from the sun can help the chemicals evaporate, thereby reducing residues, they said.
The incident directly polluted about 600,000 square meters of water, and 20 hectares of aquaculture farms owned by 152 fishing families.