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[labor news] Local preparedness in response to toxic chemical accidents desires to be boosted
▲ A large fire breaks out at a semiconductor parts cleaning and coating company, Cinose in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province on September 19. [provided by the Gyeonggi Province Disaster & Safety Management Center]

September 27 marks the 6th anniversary of an accident which leaked 10 tons of hydrofluoric acid gas caused by an explosion of the plant of Hube Global, a chemical maker, located in Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province. The explosion claimed 5 lives of workers and 18 fire fighters were injured. About 3,000 residents in the area and workers of the plant suffered from the aftermaths of the leak of deadly poisonous hydrofluoric acid fumes. Agricultural crops dried up and perished as well.

According to the statistics released by the National Institute of Chemical Safety, an affiliate to the Ministry of Environment, the accidents related to chemical materials reached 87 cases last year, of which 74 were leakages and 7 explosions. Concerns are growing, as the chemical accidents do not show any sign of decline.

Since the Gumi hydrofluoric acid gas leakage accident in 2012, the rising demand to know about chemical substances used in the factories brought about the legislation of the Toxic Chemicals Control Act which took effect in 2015. The new law now effectively enforces the companies to release the information data on the use and storage of chemical substances, which had been allowed for the reason of 'business confidentiality'. The rate of chemical information release rose up to 95 percent, sharply increased from the level of 20 percent which had remained for long before the implementation of the new law. However, the establishment of a local preparedness system in response to the chemical substance accidents makes little progress, particularly in the local industrial estates.

reported by Kim Mi-young
translated by Kim Sung-jin

번역 김성진  goyong1472@gmail.com

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