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Environmental monitoring has detected an excessive amount of the harmful gas benzene ne
ar the site of a deadly explosion in Xiangshui county of Jiangsu province, authorities said on Thursday.
At 10 am on Wednesday, the benzene density stood at 2.04 milligrams per cubic meter at a monitoring point that is 1 kilometer away in the downwind direc
tion from the site, about 17.5 times more than the national standard. The concentration was below the standard, how
ever, 2 and 3.5 kilometers away, according to a media release from the Jiangsu environmental watchdog.
“Analysis done by environmental experts working on the site shows that the excessive den
sity of benzene occurred because buried pollutants were gradually exposed to the air as cleaning work cont
inues on the site,” Liu Youbin, spokesman of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, told a news conference on Thursday.
The explosion occurred at about 2:48 pm on March 21 after a fire broke out in a plant owned by Jiang
su Tianjiayi Chemical Co. So far, the blast has claimed the lives of 78 people and injured more than 600 people.