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June 13, 2011

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Loopholes in hazardous waste transport rules

LOOPHOLES have been discovered in Shanghai's regulations on transporting hazardous materials, in the wake of high-profile spillages in other parts of the country.

A massive leak of carbolic acid polluted a river in neighboring Zhejiang Province on June 4, affecting the water supply to hundreds of thousands of households.

Then last Thursday night, a truck carrying acid overturned on an expressway in Sichuan Province.

In Shanghai, despite supposedly strict regulations, an investigation by a political adviser concluded that the industry lacks enough supervision and vehicles require technical improvements.

Guo Xiang, a member of the Shanghai Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said: "The routes taken by trucks containing hazardous goods need further approval, especially in the Yangtze River Delta Region which is rich in rivers."

The chemical spill in Zhejiang had alarmed the industry, said Guo.

Guo said some trucks are operated by small businesses unqualified to transport hazardous cargoes in Shanghai.

More than 200 transport or logistic companies in the city are qualified to carry dangerous goods, while only 25 of them are licensed to transport poisons, explosives and radioactive cargoes, according to the Shanghai Association of Transporters of Dangerous Goods.

However, unlicensed vehicles are sometimes involved through subcontracting, said an official, surnamed Jin, with the association.

Guo advised the city government to merge numerous smaller companies into several large ones to make supervision easier.

Vehicles should be fitted with GPS equipment to improve tracking, added Guo.


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