Muifa passes near the coastal area of Shanghai.

Tropical storm Muifa threatens Chinese chemical plant

Strong waves caused by tropical storm Muifa are threatening a chemical plant in China, raising fears of a toxic spill.

Xinhua News Agency said waves slamming the coast near the port city of Dalian in Liaoning province hit a half-built dyke protecting the Jinzhou development zone. Behind a growing hole in the protective wall is a storage area containing around 20 metal tanks holding oil-based chemicals at the Fujia industrial chemical plant, said the website of the People’s Daily newspaper.

“If the breach cannot be blocked up, toxic chemical products may spill, and that would be extremely dangerous,” the newspaper website reported from Dalian.

A Chinese television report said the threat was “under control”. Over a thousand firefighters, troops and border guards rushed to prevent sea water from creating a bigger hole that could trigger a spill of toxic chemicals from the Fujia plant, said the People’s Daily website.

Troops and police also helped disperse nearby residents, said the report, which gave no details of any damage or injuries. Chinese television news showed trucks and earth movers lined up to block the 200-metre wide breach with rocks and sand.

A serious chemical leakage would be a fresh headache for Liaoning, which recently suffered an oil spill from two offshore platforms. Pollutants from that spill have been found spreading to beaches, and been blamed for losses to tourism and aquatic farming businesses, Xinhua reported in July.

China has so far avoided any serious damage from Muifa, which weakened to a tropical storm from a typhoon as it approached the country’s east coast over the weekend. Shandong province, which is across the Bohai Sea from Liaoning province, moved hundreds of thousands of residents from coastal areas and ordered tens of thousands of boats and other vessels to stay in ports as the storm passed on Monday.

Earlier, the full brunt of the typhoon’s core missed Shanghai, but strong gusts knocked down billboards and briefly cut power to at least two residential areas.

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