Beijing punishes Sinopec management over Qingdao blast

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 January, 2014, 4:16am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 January, 2014, 5:07am

Authorities are holding Sinopec and its top management responsible for a November pipeline explosion that killed 62 people and injured scores of others in the eastern port city of Qingdao .

The State Council decided yesterday an administrative demerit should be recorded against Fu Chengyu, chief of the state oil company, which operated the pipeline. Fu is one of the most prominent figures in China's oil industry.

The mayor of Qingdao, Zhang Xinqi , also received a warning administrative sanction.

The council agreed to fire Sinopec's chief safety officer, Wang Yongjian , and file major administrative demerits against general manager Wang Tianpu and deputy general manager Li Chunguang .

"We firmly abide by the conclusions by the State Council's investigative team on the accident, and we accept the disciplinary actions," Sinopec said in a statement. It apologised to the people of Qingdao and promised to check potential hazards in its pipeline network.

The authorities also endorsed disciplinary actions against 43 other people.

It said 15 other people were handed over to the judicial department, where they were likely to be criminally prosecuted, Xinhua reported.

On Thursday, safety officials said the blast, which injured 136 people, was caused by sparks from a jackhammer being used to repair a manhole cover following an oil leak. The sparks ignited fumes from the oil that had leaked from a corroded pipe into the city's sewage system, they said.

The safety officials said both municipal officials and Sinopec bore responsibility for failure to carry out routine safety checks, a weak emergency response, poor work procedures, and bad designs that put buildings and the city's underground utility lines too close to the pipeline.

Since the explosion, inspections have discovered nearly 20,000 potential hazards that were now being dealt with, said Wang Haoshui, a petrochemical plant safety inspector.