Tianjin Port Situation Update

Tianjin Port Situation Update

A devastating series of explosions at a Dangerous Goods warehouse occurred in Tianjin, China last week. The explosions, which occurred approximately 50 kilometers away from the city center, left more than a hundred people dead and hundreds injured. The cause of the explosions was not immediately known, but initial reports point to an industrial accident. Fires caused by the initial explosions continued to burn uncontrolled throughout the weekend, repeatedly causing secondary explosions. Chinese state media reported that at least the initial blast had been triggered by unknown hazardous materials in shipping containers at a warehouse. The incident prompted contamination fears and a major cleanup of a 3-kilometer (1.8-mile) -radius, cordoned-off area in the port city southeast of Beijing.

Everstream Analytics has been continuously monitoring the situation and has been issuing real-time incident alerts prior to mainstream media reporting on the event.

Update From the Ground

As of August 18th, military chemical specialists are still cleaning through the explosion area where 3,000 tons of highly hazardous chemicals were stored when it was hit by explosions last week. Rain and thunderstorms on Tuesday, August 18th in Tianjin may pose risk to people’s health, complicate the rescue efforts and spread pollution in Tianjin port, container depot and warehouse. Work has been suspended since this morning until the weather clears. China’s central meteorological authority has predicted a thunderstorm in the next couple of days over the site where the explosions occurred, and where hundreds of tons of toxic cyanide still reside. The core blast zone is still under traffic restrictions. People are not allowed to enter this area to conduct damage assessment until hazardous chemicals have been completely cleaned and removed, which is expected to take another 7-10 days.

While there has been some serious disruption in port operation over the last few days, all terminals are now back to operating normally except for terminal TECT, the one closest to the explosion area. All other 5 terminals have vessels departing and arriving, with most of them on original schedule. The operation efficiency at TECT is reportedly very slow. Some vessels are at anchorage zone and waiting for green light to enter the terminal. Customs released goods can be loaded on board, though no late gate-in are being allowed. Port operation is slowly normalizing with terminals operating, and carriers & forwarders processing bookings. Nevertheless, the biggest hurdles currently are traffic control, closed roads, and the availability and access to empty containers.

Carrier vessels are sailing into Tianjin without any further vessel cancellation notice, but expect 1-2 days delayed compared to original schedule. Vessel departure at the port is impacted and vessel arrival times may take 1-2 weeks longer than initially estimated. Unloading of vessels is also likely to experience several days delay due to low productivity at port.

Customs declaration for imports is still functioning, despite the main facility being damaged. Customs clearance is only possible after shipment gate-in terminal has been confirmed, though customs inspection reportedly cannot be guaranteed. Communication between terminals and customs is broken and may likely result in further disruption in customs operations.

Traffic near to the incident area is restricted. Except for those that have been seriously damaged, most depot trailers can enter the port-to-gate at all 6 terminals, with some delays as the gate-in efficiency is low. All export and import Dangerous Goods operations are on hold since August 14th.

Alternative Routing

Companies using the Tianjin Port may arrange for alternative routing through Qingdao, Dalian or Yantai ports. North America-bound shipments can also use Shanghai Port as an alternative. Airfreight options are also available, as there has been no impact on TSN airport operation or customs clearance due to the accident.

A railway service with pick up from Tianjin via Hefei to Hamburg, with a transit time of 20 days is also possible. Inland trucking options are available, though trunk roads leading to the port have been closed since 10:00am on August 13th. Dangerous Goods carriage is forbidden, though load pickup is permitted and is very slow due to limited container stock and extensive traffic control.

Impact on Supply Chains

Media sources report that several companies have suspended operations due to the explosion at the Dangerous Goods warehouse belonging to Ruihai Logistics near Yuejin Rd and 5th St in the Tianjin Port area on Wednesday, August 12. Toyota claims half of its China production will be offline at least through Wednesday; three of its production lines near the blast site have reportedly been suspended, which can produce 530,000 vehicles a year. Operations of Panasonic and Singamas Container Holdings and Deere & Co. have also been disrupted. Rain in the coming days is expected to complicate rescue and recovery efforts and may spread pollution.

Looking Ahead

Tianjin government has set an area of martial law and most of the warehouse and container yard belongs to this area. That means the loading/ unloading cannot be done in this area and as a result, the containers may not be sent to the seaport. Damage assessment of cargo affected at the port can only be done once the core incident zone is re-opened again. Customs clearance efficiency may suffer as well, as container pick-up and delivery at the yard are delayed, potentially resulting in operational delays and extended delivery times for cargo. Only a few carriers declared to omit calls at Tianjin port, while most of them are continuing to call at Tianjin. Currently the terminals are handling departing as well as arriving vessels. However, no import or export of Dangerous Goods cargo at Tianjin port is possible at the moment.

Everstream Analytics is closely monitoring the situation and will provide regular updates as more details emerge.

Event Timeline

Below is an event timeline, as reported by Everstream Analytics. All incidents are based on China Standard Time.

August 13th, 00:38

Breaking news reports confirm that a gas explosion has taken place at a petrol station near the docks in Tianjin. Social media posts indicate a large fire has occurred. It is unclear if there have been any casualties in the incident at this time. Efforts are ongoing to extinguish the blaze and assist any potential casualties.

August 13th, 01:27

Media sources are reporting that multiple large explosions have occurred during a fire in an unspecified location near the dock area of Tianjin. Social media accounts have said the explosions may be linked to a chemical leak.

August 13th, 02:21

Buildings in the Binhai neighborhood of Tianjin are experiencing a power outage following the explosion in the port area.

August 13th, 02:23

Sources indicate that the earlier explosion in Tianjin has caused damage to surrounding buildings, while a local hospital is reporting that hundreds of people have been injured. The cause of the explosion remains unclear at this time and details are still emerging.

August 13th, 03:13

At least 300 people are being treated for injuries following a major explosion in Tianjin Binhai New Development Zone. According to reports, the blast occurred when a shipment of explosives blew up at about 23:30 (16:30 GMT). Tianjin is a major port city in northeastern China. Unverified reports indicate some locals are concerned about hazardous gases.

August 13th, 04:08

Local sources are reporting that the explosion occurred at Tianjin Dongjiang Port Rui Hai International Logistics, a company located in the city’s industrial port zone, which handles the transportation of hazardous goods. The cause of the blast has initially been attributed to flammable stock on site. There is also the possibility of fatalities, given the large area that is reported to have been affected, and the intensity of the explosion.

August 13th, 05:28

Latest reports indicate that at least seven people have been killed and more than 400 people injured following a major explosion in Tianjin on Wednesday night. According to local police, shock waves from the blast were felt 10 km away from the Tianjin Dongjiang Port Rui Hai International Logistics warehouse in the Binhai development zone, where a shipment of explosives was reported to have blown up. The first explosion was followed by another shortly afterwards, while other sources claim that further blasts were subsequently triggered nearby. Widespread damage has occurred with reports of collapsed buildings and destroyed vehicles across the city, while metro tracks have been damaged and several blocks remain without power in the port area. Meanwhile, traffic reports show roads into and out of the city are severely congested, as residents are said to be attempting to evacuate the city due to concerns of chemical contamination.

August 13th, 23:02

This afternoon, 4 of 6 container terminals resumed operations. The berthed vessels are allowed to load and depart from TianJin XinGang Port. However those vessels in anchorage have to await green light for entrance. Until now, all customs offices, quarantine offices, facilities and depots have stopped operating, trucking transport is very slow. Carriers are reviewing the situation trying to arrange some of the recent voyage to skip TianJin XinGang Port. All export/import of Dangerous Goods operations are imperatively stopped.

August 14th, 02:51

An enormous explosion at the Chinese port of Tianjin has caused delays to shipping at the facility. Port authorities are currently allowing ships to leave but not enter the Beigangchi area of the port, which handles containers and general cargo. Shipping was completely halted for six hours earlier today, though some traffic resumed at 7:00 a.m. local time on Friday. The blast itself destroyed or damaged a significant number of shipping containers. The explosion also knocked the ports IT system offline, resulting in delays to customs processing. Vessels carrying chemical and crude oil were told to stop discharging their loads due to the continuing risk of explosions. Around two dozen tankers are currently waiting to leave or enter the harbor. One source stated that oil terminal operations will resume tomorrow, though this has not been confirmed with port authorities.

August 14th, 05:36

On Thursday, levels of the pollutant toluene had exceeded the national standards after several explosions occurred at a dangerous goods warehouse in the Binhai New area of Tianjin. According to air quality monitoring centers in the area, the concentration of toluene, which is used as an industrial feedstock, had reached 3.7 milligrams per cubic meter.

August 14th, 08:20

Two hundred military Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) specialists are currently deployed in the area near the Tianjin Dongjiang Port Rui Hai International Logistics warehouse in the Binhai development zone. The HAZMAT teams will conduct a survey of the site checking for any leaking chemicals or toxins that may present a threat to the safety of emergency services personnel or those in the surrounding area.

August 14th, 20:32

Terminals at the port of Tianjin remain closed on Friday as rescue and recovery operations continue following major explosions at the port late on Wednesday, August 12. Industry sources and media have reported that all chemical, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), and oil terminal facilities at the port are expected to remain closed for an undetermined amount of time. Some sources have indicated that loading and unloading operations for bulk cargo items, as well as some export operations, are continuing with relatively little impact. The container depot area reportedly remains closed; although some vessels are able to unload containers, congestion and delays to shipping are expected. Company officials stated that the Euroasia International Container Terminal, Wuzhou Five Continents International Container Terminal, Tianjin Port Pacific, and Tianjin Port Alliance International sites were operating normally; however, conflicting media accounts indicated operations were suspended following the explosions at the Eurasia and Wuzhou Five Continents facilities.

August 15th, 03:01

Continued delays for cargo shipping were reported at the Chinese port of Tianjin following a devastating explosion that killed at least 55 people. Around 110 vessels were anchored off the port, including 60 bulk carriers, 37 dry cargo ships, and nine tankers. Shippers from New Zealand and Japan reported disruptions to their operations, while an American-owned oil company and technology companies operating in Tianjin stated their operations have resumed. Other businesses reported difficulty obtaining iron ore following the explosion and port closure. Port and city officials reported that the port was operating normally aside from oil shipping and other ships carrying hazardous materials.

August 15th, 07:16

Updated reports indicate that 56 people have so far been killed following a number of explosions that occurred within the city of Tianjin. A further 721 people have been admitted to hospital. Details are still emerging.

August 15th, 19:51

There have been at least seven further explosions in Binhai area of Tianjin on Saturday, according to media reports. Armed police officers have evacuated residents within a three-kilometre radius of a heavily damaged chemical warehouse. At least 85 people have been killed and 700 others injured since 12 August. State media has allegedly reported that there is sodium cyanide present in the air, which is combustible upon contact with water.

August 16th, 07:41

Ongoing reports from official sources indicate that the death toll following a number of explosions in Tianjin, Hebei Province, has risen to 104, with another 58 people currently in critical condition. A search and rescue operation is currently continuing in the area.

August 16th, 12:51

Sources are reporting that 95 people are still missing, including 85 fire fighters. A search and rescue operation is currently continuing across the area, although the likelihood of finding further survivors is reported to be slim at this time. Authorities believed that chemicals such as sodium cyanide may still be in the air.

August 17th, 17:34

Evacuated residents have protested in Tianjin on Monday. Around several hundred people gathered outside a hotel, where a press conference is being held regarding the explosion at the port, at 12:00 local time. The demonstrations were demanding compensation following the incident.

August 18th, 06:35

Chinese state-run media reported that another small explosion occurred in Tianjin on Monday and clean-up crews are on the scene to handle the hazardous chemicals, including sodium cyanide, that were involved in the explosions. It is possible that the Chinese government will not offer any compensation packages to the affected residents until the site of the explosion has been rendered safe and all the evacuations have been lifted.

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