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October 24, 2013

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13 factories punished in ammonia checks

THIRTEEN factories have been penalized over liquid ammonia safety, in checks that followed a leak that killed 15 people in August.

By September 27, 145 plants using liquid ammonia had undergone checks, said the Shanghai Administration of Work Safety, with 997 safety risks uncovered.

Five factories were each fined 70,000 yuan (US$11,501) and a further eight ordered to stop using equipment linked to safety risks, said the administration.

Safety hazards included unqualified machinery, untrained staff and managers with poor safety knowledge.

Checks on liquid ammonia use became a priority in the wake of the leak on August 31 at Shanghai Weng’s Cold Storage Industrial Co Ltd in Baoshan District.

It left 15 people dead, 25 injured and caused losses of 25.1 million yuan (US$4.1 million).

Frequently used in industrial sterilization and refrigeration processes, liquid ammonia is a corrosive and volatile chemical.

Heavy exposure can lead to suffocation.

It was used in refrigeration at Wang’s, which processes and trades in seafood.

An investigation showed that a detached pipe cap caused the accident. It also emerged that Wang’s had illegally built a workshop, blocking emergency exits.

Last month, five managers were handed over to prosecutors for a possible trial.

Twelve government officials received disciplinary punishments, including Qin Wenbo, deputy director of Baoshan District.

Another campaign targeting liquid ammonia use is to take place and could see some factories shut down, said officials.



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