Chemical transportation in Shanghai will be strictly controlled during a six month long cultural exposition


Hepeng Jia/Beijing, China

Restrictions on chemical transportation and use during an enormous cultural exposition - that is hoping to attract 70 million visitors to Shanghai, China - are due to hit the region’s chemical sector in coming weeks.

The Shanghai Expo will be held between 1 May and 31 October, with 200 countries and international organisations exhibiting during the period.

Like during the Beijing Olympics, transportation of hazardous chemicals will be tightly restricted, and will be forbidden near the exposition venues. Shanghai authorities, headed by the Shanghai Administration of Work Safety, have demanded that from May hazardous chemicals be transported using specially licensed trucks, which will be forbidden to drive during most of the day. The administration has also closed down 50 factories producing dangerous chemicals in the city.

The use and storage of dangerous and toxic chemicals will also be strictly restricted and registered. Shanghai has signed agreements with nearby Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces to monitor the transportation of potentially dangerous chemicals in areas near Shanghai. 

Chemical tankers

The transportation of chemicals in Shanghai will be widely restricted from May to October

’Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces have China’s most advanced and concentrated chemical industry, and the expo lasts longer than Olympics. So if there is the same level of strict regulation, the chemical sector could be seriously impacted,’ says Zhou Houyun, chief editor of the journal Chemical Safety and Environment which is operated by Beijing-based China Chemical Information Centre.

During the Beijing Olympics, besides regular checking and registration, the government also listed a total of 257 chemicals to be specially regulated, which in addition to toxic and dangerous chemicals like hydroxides, also covered common products like acetic acid, alcohol and sodium sulfide. Only authorised firms or research institutions were permitted to produce, sell, transport and buy them. The rule was widely criticised by chemical producers and researchers for affecting production schedules and research. So far, Shanghai has no such far-reaching restrictions. 

’There should not be big impacts as serious as the measures imposed during Beijing Olympics,’ reassures Zhang Yimin, vice president of Shanghai-based Keike Industrial Company, a leading chemical trading firm.

Thanks to their highly developed chemical sectors, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces have a matured chemical logistics system. Since long before the expo was planned, chemical transportation has been well regulated and carried out far from major urban areas, let alone Shanghai, Zhang told Chemistry World.

In addition, there are many alternative facilities across the region, so if facilities in Shanghai have restrictions on chemical shipments, they can be diverted to nearby Ningbo or Zhangjiagang areas, says Zhang.

As a preventative measure, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provincial governments have installed global positioning systems (GPS) in all of their licensed trucks shipping hazardous material. Special escorts will be arranged to accompany the transportation of highly dangerous material in and near Shanghai. 

’Chemical manufacturers need to closely follow the government’s rules, such as declaring in advance, preparing the documents and timely application for licenses. As long as they do so, there is no need to store large amounts of chemical material to avoid possible shortages caused by the expo restrictions,’ Zhang says.