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Zhejiang Prohibits Nighttime Transport of Hazardous Chemicals on Highways

  •   5 Aug 2019
  •    Horace Wang
  •    309
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    Takehome:

    Zhejiang released a notice mandating that hazardous chemical transport vehicles will be prohibited from driving on the highways within the province from 0 a.m. to 6 a.m. 

    On 24th July, Zhejiang Provincial Public Security Department, Communications Department and Emergency Management Department jointly released a notice [1] stating that vehicles loaded with hazardous chemicals are prohibited from driving on highways within the province from 0 a.m. to 6 a.m. The measures have been implemented since 1st August. 

    Five provisions were stipulated in the notice, including: 

    • Hazardous chemicals transport vehicles will be prohibited from driving on provincial highways from 0 a.m. to 6 a.m. A reporting management system has been established.
    • Drivers should strictly abide by the restrictions and should prepare in advance to exit highways before the daily deadline. It is forbidden to stay in service areas or station squares during restricted times.
    • Related manufacturers, retailers, logistics and users should make efforts to ensure that vehicles loaded with hazardous chemical aren’t on highways during the restricted period.
    • Highway management should set conspicuous no-access signs for vehicles at the entrances of highways and strengthen management to keep vehicles off highways during the restricted period.
    • Penalties for violations to the restriction will be executed according to People's Republic of China Road Traffic Safety Law, Implementation Regulations of the People's Republic of China Road Traffic Safety Law and Regulations on the Control over Safety of Hazardous Chemicals (Decree 591). 

    More details were published at a press conference held on the same day; three reasons were given to explain why the restrictions need to be implemented. Firstly, the hidden dangers of hazardous chemicals accidents on highways are high, and the damage caused by accidents at nighttime is greater than during the daytime. 736 accidents happened in 2018, up from 373 in 2017. Secondly, night rescue is more difficult, making accidents involving hazardous chemicals even worse. Thirdly, compared with other provinces in the surrounding area, Zhejiang's policy on the restriction of hazardous chemical transport vehicles is weak. For example, Jiangxi and Jiangsu have taken this action for years and Jiangsu extended the restricted period at the beginning of the year, from 22 p.m. to 6 a.m. In Shanghai, there is only one highway where transport of hazardous chemicals is permitted. As a result of these policies, vehicles would gather in Zhejiang during the restricted periods of other provinces, significantly increasing the risk of accidents in Zhejiang. 

    On the evening of 22nd July, a tanker loaded with 30 tons of bromoethane leaked while driving in Pan’an County, Zhejiang Province. The rescue operation lasted for 43 hours and the neighboring villagers were evacuated for a couple of days. After the restriction is implemented, the number of accidents and the impact should be significantly reduced.

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