Effects of Tianjin Port blasts ripple through supply chain

The Chinese government has begun inspections of companies handling dangerous goods near the Tianjin Port following a series of deadly explosions that rocked the area in August.

Though operations at the complex have since returned to normal, Beijing has initiated inspections that may hamper supply chain efficiency in an effort to ensure that the world's 10th busiest container port doesn't experience a repeat of the disaster, according to the Journal of Commerce (JOC). The sub-provincial district that houses the port, the Binhai New Area, has set up an office employing close to 100 individuals tasked with inspecting companies that transport potentially dangerous goods. 

"The safety checks will continue until the end of the year and target enterprises that transport dangerous goods," said an official from the Binhai New Area government, according to the news outlet. "Companies determined to be lacking conditions for safe production will be shut down and those found to be hazardous will be suspended from operation until improvement."

Blasts may have been result of explosive chemical reaction with water
The explosions occurred at a warehouse that contained, among other things, "calcium carbide, sodium cyanide, potassium nitrate, ammonium nitrate and sodium nitrate," according to the BBC. While it is not yet certain what caused the blasts, at least one staffer from the company that owns the warehouse, Tianjin Dongjiang Port Ruihai International Logistics, has been arrested. The idea is that the explosions may have been triggered by water sprayed at a blaze by firefighters. At least one of the chemicals at the warehouse is known to create highly explosive acetylene when it reacts water. An acetylene explosion could have caused further detonation of other chemicals in the area. 

New realities could cause delays at Tianjin Port
Since the blasts, all terminals at the port are back in operation, although not all warehouses have reopened, the JOC reported. The effects of the explosions could ripple through the supply chain for months, though. A new report explained that port operators could expect top experience delays as Chinese officials set up safeguards to ensure the port isn't faced with a repeat of the August blasts. Additionally, the building at the port that handled the bulk of the paperwork was damaged, forcing terminal operators to change the way they do business, and slowing some processes even more. 

Another problem presented to the port months after the blast is the departure of many individuals who once took up residence nearby. Scared of lasting environmental damage following the explosions, people are leaving the area for what they believe are safer places to live. As a result, the port has been forced to deal with a loss of labor. 

While operations have started up again at Tianjin, there is a legitimate fear of congestion issues going forward. The new reality will force supply chain managers and others working at the port to adapt to new realities that come with a shrinking labor force as well as increased inspections and regulation, and come up with workarounds for processes changed by the damage the blasts caused.