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September 14, 2013

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5 in fatal leak case may face trial

Five people responsible for a fatal liquid ammonia leakage at a refrigeration company in Baoshan District were handed over to prosecutors for a possible trial, according to a statement from the Shanghai government yesterday.

They are Wen Wenbin, the company’s legal representative, work safety manager Miao Baiqiang, technical engineer Sun Jinkuai, ammonia compressor operator Pan Zexu and an individual business contractor Chen Yongbiao.

Chen Beili, in charge of the production at the firm’s processing workshop, is severely injured and may be charged after treatment. But Le Suying, director of the workshop, died in the accident. 

Twelve government officials responsible for the leakage were also given disciplinary punishment, including Qin Wenbo, deputy director of Baoshan District.

The liquid ammonia leak occurred at around 10:50am on August 31 in a factory at Shanghai Weng’s Cold Storage Industrial Co Ltd which left 15 people dead, 25 others injured. It caused a direct economic loss of 25.1 million yuan (US$4.1 million).

Liquid ammonia is a colorless liquid frequently used in industrial sterilization and refrigeration processes. The corrosive and volatile chemical may cause suffocation after heavy inhalation.

The liquid ammonia was used in food refrigeration units at the company, which imports, exports, stores, processes and sells seafood.

An investigation into the deadly ammonia leak earlier this month showed that a detached pipe cap was the direct cause of the accident.

Investigators also found the firm illegally built the workshop, blocking the fire exits.

The company’s employees and temporary staff did not receive work safety training, according to a statement from the Shanghai work safety supervision bureau.

A report also faulted the Baoshan District government, Baoshan City Industrial Park and the district’s quality and technical supervision bureau, work safety administration, planning and land resource administration and public safety fire control detachment for not doing their job well.


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