Tianjin Dongjiang Port Ruihai International Logistics, the owner of the warehouse that was the site of a massive explosion in Tianjin in northeastern China, last week, handled hazardous chemicals without an appropriate license, Xinhua reported Tuesday, citing a company executive. The country's State Council has established a team to investigate the blasts that killed 114 people, while 70 remain missing.
Ruihai, founded in 2011, was allowed to work with hazardous chemicals only temporarily between April and October last year, but it did not stop after the approvals expired, China's state-run news agency added, citing the executive who said that the company also handled dangerous chemicals "during a period without a license."
Xinhua added that, in June, the company received a license to work with "hazardous chemicals" but continued to store materials in higher quantities than the license allowed it to, BBC reported, citing Xinhua. At the time of the blast, the company was storing toxic sodium cyanide and potentially explosive potassium nitrate and ammonium nitrate.
Documents filed by the company said that Ruihai passed a mandatory security check but other details reportedly remain unpublished. Tianjin's transport commission, which keeps security records, reportedly refused to divulge more details citing the State Council investigation.
Xinhua added that officials suspected of dereliction of duty and other crimes are being investigated by the Supreme People's Procuratorate, China's top prosecutor.
There were also questions raised about a poll taken of 128 people, living near the warehouse, as a part of the certification process by environmental authorities. The poll concluded that there were no objections to the facility and that "most of the respondents support the project." However, residents reportedly claim that they did not know of the warehouse. The report added that Vanke, a real estate developer of one of the communities that was damaged in the blasts, told Xinhua that when it acquired the land there in 2010, the warehouse was storing ordinary goods. The developer also did not reportedly know of the warehouse, only 560 meters away, storing dangerous chemicals.
Du Huan, an area resident said that she never participated in a survey. "Had I received the questionnaire, I would never agree or Ok such a report," Du reportedly said, according to Xinhua.
The team set up by the State Council will give "a responsible answer" to the Communist Party and the public, Xinhua reported. The team is headed by Yang Huanning, executive vice minister of public security, and will "define the nature and gravity of the accident, and determine liability." The State Council also said that the team will get “relevant experts” to join the investigation.