China p-Xylene Plant Explodes For Second Time In Less Than Two Years

The explosion of three naphtha tanks at a plant producing p-xylene in Zhangzhou in China’s coastal province of Fujian caused an enormous fire that was put out with the intervention of firefighters from several nearby cities. Soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were also called in. The accident happened on 6 April at a plant operated by Xianglu Tenglong Group, a company that media reports say is owned by unspecified Taiwanese investors. The same facility had already experienced a less serious blast in July 2013. Television reports from the 6 April explosion showed flames shooting tens of feet into the air. China’s state agency Xinhua reports that no one died but 14 people were injured. Zhangzhou’s fire department posted on Weibo—the Chinese equivalent of Twitter—that 610 firefighters and 122 fire engines from the cities of Zhangzhou, Xiamen, Longyan, and Quanzhou worked together to extinguish the blaze. The fire department also noted that soldiers from PLA’s chemical warfare unit participated in firefighting efforts, although the nature of their contribution was not described. p-Xylene is a highly controversial chemical in China. Large protests have erupted in recent years in the cities of Xiamen, Maoming, Dalian, and Kunming to demand that p-xylene facilities be either shut down or not built at all. Elsewhere in the world the material, used in the production of polyester fibre and resin, is produced without creating a great deal of controversy.

Chemical & Engineering News, 7 April 2015 ; ;