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Blast, fire rock chemical plant in Shanghai

A petrochemical factory that’s one of the largest acrylic acid producers in China was partly engulfed in fire for nearly three hours yesterday in the Pudong New Area, but no one was injured and 50 fire engines were used to extinguish the blaze, officials said.

The fire was reported at Shanghai Huayi Acrylic Acid Company about 11am as nearby residents heard “very loud” sounds and sensed a “chemical smell in the air,” they posted online.

Acrylic acid can be a strong irritant to the eyes and mucous membranes and can be inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin.

But officials said tests showed there was no danger to neighbors from chemicals at the factory.

The fire was put out by 1:50pm, according to the Shanghai Fire Prevention Bureau.

The fire occurred after an acrylic acid reactor in a factory workshop exploded during manufacturing yesterday, the company said on its website. Just before the explosion, a reactor tube cracked and caused a leak, the company said.

Fire officials said last night they still were investigating the cause of the fire. The workshop was destroyed but the factory did not sustain widespread damage.

The company is a joint venture of Shanghai Huayi Group and China Petrochemical Corporation. The factory produces 230,000 tons of acrylic acid a year. Acrylic acid is used in plastics, latex and other products.

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