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Questions about the explosion

Updated: 2013-11-25 07:15
( China Daily)

The lethal oil pipeline explosion in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, on Friday, killed 52 people, leaving 136 injured and 11 missing. While we express our condolences to the families of those that died and sympathy to the injured, we also hope that a thorough investigation will help answer the questions people have raised about the accident.

Questions about the explosionThe The site of a pipeline explosion in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, Nov 22, 2013. [Photo / Xinhua]

A preliminary investigation has revealed that the explosion took place after an oil pipeline leaked oil into the city's underground utility pipeline network. Why is the oil pipeline so close to the other pipeline network? Also it is common sense that a pipeline transporting crude oil is vulnerable to explosions and fires and it should have been laid far away from residential areas. So why was the oil pipeline laid underneath a street very close to a large residential area?

It was said that when the pipeline was laid in the late 1980s, this area was a wilderness. But the urban planners should have known the oil pipeline was there and they need to give an explanation why housing estates were built there.

It has also been revealed that nothing was done to evacuate residents nearby in the seven hours from 3 am when the oil pipeline fracture was discovered to 10:30 am when the explosion took place. In those seven hours work was underway to repair the fractured oil pipeline, but residents said they were never informed about the possible danger.

Were the management of the oil company Sinopec and local leaders so confident they could handle the oil leak or were they too busy with the organization of the repair work to see to the safety of local residents?

Had proper maintenance been done on the pipeline, had housing estates not been constructed so near the pipeline, and had residents been timely informed of the danger and evacuated, such an accident would not have taken place, and even if it did, the death toll and number of injured would have been much lower.

The State Council has already announced a full investigation will take place and promised that those who are held accountable will be punished.

This is the sixth serious accident involving Sinopec since 2010. The investigation should find out if there are problems with the management of the oil giant so that similar accidents can be prevented from happening in the future.

(China Daily 11/25/2013 page8)