Tianjin: Large numbers of dead fish have washed ashore in Tianjin, causing fresh public alarm over the extent of environmental contamination after last week’s deadly chemical-fuelled explosions.
Environmental officials struggled to explain the thousands of dead fish found along the Haihe River about six kilometres from the blast site, saying they did not detect toxic levels of cyanide from the river during an analysis on Thursday afternoon.
Deng Xiaowen, director of Tianjin’s environmental monitoring bureau, said at a press conference that experts were investigating the dead fish but that such incidents were “not rare” during the summer.
Dead fish float along the shore of Haihe River Dam on Thursday. Photo: ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images
The discovery coincided with reports that wastewater runoff near the site of the explosions contained concentrations of cyanide hundreds of times acceptable levels.
Authorities have said that the toxic runoff has been contained near the site and has not entered broader waters. Drinking water in Tianjin met national standards, they said.
Officials have confirmed that the warehouse at the centre of the explosions, owned by Rui Hai International Logistics, stored 700 tonnes of sodium cyanide among hundreds of tonnes of other toxic chemicals.
Sodium cyanide, a compound used in gold mining, can be toxic to humans even in small quantities.
The blasts on Wednesday last week killed at least 114 people, with another 65 listed as missing and presumed dead.
Crowds of curious onlookers gathered on the banks of the Haihe River to take pictures of the grim scene of dead fish, as environmental activists took samples of the water.
Tianjin, the world’s 10th-busiest port, will relocate chemical plants from the Tianjin Binhai New Area where the blasts occurred to the Nangang Industrial Zone, 25 kilometres away, according to the official China Daily, citing Tianjin mayor Huang Xingguo.
The Communist party’s anti-graft watchdog promised to crack down both on corruption and on those responsible for violating laws and regulations which had led to the explosions but stressed the importance of maintaining political stability, according to a statement on the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection website on Thursday.