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Environmental Pollution Tops Concerns of Residents after Blasts in Tianjin
   2015-08-21 06:46:55    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Li Shaotong

Environmental authorities monitoring the situation around the blast zone in Tianjin are moving to try to quell fears about both airborne and waterborne chemicals affecting people in the city.

CRI's Luo Wen has more.

"Like I said previously, there are substances being monitored, and some are excessive. Right now, the chemicals being monitored in the air will only have a short-term effect on people's health. However, long-term exposure could be more dangerous. But if the levels we're monitoring stay as they are, we don't feel there will be any problems."

Tian Weiyong, Director of the Tianjin Emergency and Accident Investigation Center, releasing information on Thursday as part of a new commitment by authorities around the blast site to provide a constant update on the environmental impact of last week's deadly blast.

As part of that commitment, observers are issuing updates every 2-hours, as opposed to once-a-day, which had been the practice until Thursday.

Despite the updated information, fears about the impact last week's explosion is having on the environment are still running high in Tianjin.

Scores of dead fish have been found in a river nearly 6 kilometers from the blast site, stoking new fears about the possible release of toxic chemicals into the water system.

The dead fish have been found around an estuary on the Haihe River.

Deng Xiaowen, Director of the Tianjin Environment Monitoring Center, says they are closely monitoring for cyanide in the water around the area, and says the levels are within safety limits.

"In recent days, we have been keeping close track of a specific pollutant, cyanide, in the Haihe River. We've found its density is within the standard, and does not exceed it. Currently, the marine monitoring points are mostly located in the waters of Dongjiang Bay, as well as around the Dongjiang dock and in the open sea outside the Port area."

As for the discovery of the dead fish, Dong Xiaowen notes this is not uncommon for this time of year in Tianjin.

"In the summer, dead fish are a common site in Tianjin. One of the reasons is Tianjin is located downstream of the Haihe River. All pollutants entering the Huahe River from upstream eventually flow into the sea through Tianjin. High temperatures, as well as run-off from farmland upstream often create algae which sucks oxygen from the water, killing fish."

Environmental officials are testing the dead fish being discovered to determine exactly what is killing them.

Cofferdams have been built to block cyanide-tainted water from getting out of the exclusion zone around the blast site.

It's estimated some 700 tons of sodium cyanide was on-site at the time of the explosion last week.

Sodium Cyanide, when mixed with water, can create potentially-lethal toxic gases.

Authorities have still not been able to give a time-frame as to when they might be able declare the site clear of deadly chemicals.

A series of massive explosions ripped through the Port of Tianjin on August 12th, leaving close to 200 dead or missing.

For CRI, I'm Luo Wen.

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