63 punished over deadly Qingdao oil pipeline blast

By Hou Liqiang ( China Daily USA )

Updated: 2014-01-13

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Sixty-three people have been penalized over a pipeline explosion that claimed 62 lives in Qingdao, Shandong province, in late November, the State Council said in a statement on Friday.

Among them, 48 received punishments for violating Party and administrative discipline, and 15 others have been transferred to judicial organs for alleged crimes, the statement said.

Fu Chengyu, chairman of Sinopec, owner of the pipeline and China's second-largest oil producer, and Qingdao Mayor Zhang Xinqi received administrative punishments.

The State Council said the fatal explosion is a "major liability accident".

The statement came one day after the State Administration of Work Safety released the results of its investigations into the accident. The report was submitted to the State Council for review.

The explosion happened after oil from a corroded pipe belonging to Sinopec leaked into the urban sewage network in Qingdao on Nov 22.

A total of 62 people were killed and 136 injured in the explosion, which resulted in a direct economic loss of 750 million yuan ($123.9 million).

The crude oil mixed with air inside the sewage system and the resulting gas quickly spread inside the sewage network.

Emergency workers failed to identify the potential for an explosion and used a hydraulic hammer on the pipe, which produced the sparks that triggered the blasts, said Huang Yi, spokesman for the State Administration of Work Safety on Thursday.

More than eight hours after the oil leak, both the company and the government failed to identify the potential danger and didn't block roads or evacuate people from the area, Huang said.

The administration's investigation also found that urban planning in the explosion area was "very chaotic". The oil pipelines are located "too close to the residential areas" and some overlap the urban sewage pipes.

A nationwide evaluation of oil pipelines launched after the Qingdao explosion has detected faults such as aging pipes and overlapping oil and sewage pipelines, which could lead to similar incidents, Huang said.

The country currently has more than 655 oil lines in service, measuring 102,000 kilometers in total.


(China Daily USA 01/13/2014 page7)