tianjin explosionThe recent news from China about catastrophic warehouse explosions highlights the dangers inherent in the storage of dangerous chemicals. Firefighters have died as a result of the Tianjin explosion, and those fighting the blaze in the city of Zibo have had to deal with the release of toxic chemicals into the atmosphere.

Water Can’t be Used to Put Out Every Fire

One of the problems at the Tianjin site was that firefighters weren’t aware of the contents of the warehouse. Consequently when the alarm was first raised, water was used to extinguish the initial fire, prior to the explosions. This led to a dangerous reaction with the chemicals, as water turns calcium carbide, one of the materials stored in the Tianjin warehouse, into acetylene, which is explosive.

The UK has Strict Rules about Storing Chemicals

The government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that if a company is storing chemicals, all of these must be listed and ‘safety data sheets’ must be followed. The HSE also states that all businesses must be compliant with the relevant legislation, and has supplied a list for all those who make, store or retail chemicals, so that everyone is clear about their responsibilities.

Labelling of chemicals is imperative under the Classification and Labelling Inventory (CLP). This process lists the dangers to people, and the environment, of any chemicals used by a business. If a disaster does occur everyone will be aware of the contents of a warehouse, for example, and will know how to deal with any fires in the correct way.