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Chemical accidents surged over 30 pct last year: institute

Politics 18:07 February 22, 2021

SEOUL, Feb. 22 (Yonhap) -- The number of chemical accidents soared by more than 30 percent last year, a government agency said Monday, indicating possible loopholes in the management of hazardous materials amid the growing prevalence of non-face-to-face work environments caused by the coronavirus outbreaks.

According to the National Institute of Chemical Safety, affiliated with the Ministry of Environment, 75 chemical accidents were reported nationwide in 2020, marking a rise of 32 percent from 57 accidents in 2019.

This file photo provided by the Yeongsan River Basin Environmental Office shows a chemical accident drill under way in Gwangju, southwestern South Korea, on June 10, 2020. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The annual number of chemical accidents here peaked at 113 in 2015 before falling to 66 in 2018 and 57 in 2019 but rebounded last year.

By type, 38 of last year's accidents were caused by worker negligence, 22 cases by insufficient facility management and 15 cases by transport vehicle accidents, the institute noted.

The number of casualties nearly doubled from 32 in 2019 to 61 last year, the highest since 129 recorded in 2015, it added.

"It is believed that the number of chemical safety accidents and relevant casualties and damage have increased, as non-face-to-face work and monitoring of workplace safety increased due to COVID-19," an institute official said.


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