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Clean-up of chemical spill starts
( 2003-11-18 01:05) (China Daily)

A clean-up has begun of nearly two tons of dangerous chemicals that leaked from a tanker over the weekend in Shenyang, capital of Northeast China's Liaoning Province.

Liaoshen Evening News in the provincial capital reported that the tanker, which was carrying at least 50 tons of dangerous chemicals, became stuck near a tollgate on Shenyang-Harbin Expressway on Saturday morning on its way from Jilin Province to Fushun of Liaoning Province.

The lopsided tanker was leaking noxious liquid onto the ground, near two petrol stations.

The chemical, called Methye acrylate, is flammable, toxic and volatile, experts said.

Nearby residents said that after smelling the chemicals, they felt dizzy and had sore throats and red, swollen eyes.

Local firefighters, police and officials from the environmental protection department arrived at the scene and cordoned off 300 square metres around the area.

After using a tractor to balance the tanker, the environment department organized the transfer of the remaining chemicals to another tanker.

But at midday on Saturday, nearly two tons of chemicals were spilt while they were being transferred between the tankers, dosing three men standing nearby.

A witness was quoted as saying a pipe connecting the tankers was not ready when authorities began pumping the chemicals from the damaged vehicle.

The three men, who were rushed to hospital, were not seriously injured.

By Sunday morning, the dangerous chemicals and the faulty tanker had been moved to a safer place.

Police have expanded the no-go zone around the accident site to 500 square metres. Nearby petrol stations and tollgates have been ordered to cut power in case of accidents.

Cao Yonggang, director of the local environmental protection department, said the chemicals may have polluted an area of 500 square metres.

The driver, known only by his last name Yang, will be fined 150,000 yuan (US$18,000) and may also pay for the cost of the clean-up.

The driver, from Jilin Province, is alleged to have overloaded his tanker.

The tanker, which is allowed to carry only 18 tons of liquid, carried more than 50 tons.

Yang was trying to drive the tanker onto the expressway to Fushun, but was stopped at Qingshuitai tollgate after the staff there found it was overloaded.

When he turned right to take another road, the tanker got stuck in a pothole.

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