The president of Uzbekistan has introduced amendments to legislation on the handling and storage of potentially hazardous chemicals in response to an explosion at a warehouse in Tashkent six weeks ago that left one person dead.
The blast, which occurred in a location near the city’s international air terminal, injured more than 160 people and damaged hundreds of apartments, a school, two kindergarten buildings, and several shops.
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev at the time gave a government commission led by deputy prime minister Achilbay Ramatov three days to investigate the causes of the explosion. The commission’s preliminary findings were released in a report three weeks later.
The report found that the warehouse where the incident took place was being used to store a large quantity of chemical substances, construction materials, and other products which were “mixed without compliance with established safety norms.” A spontaneous combustion of chemicals was cited as the initial cause of the blaze.
Fully 12 tenant companies were storing their material in the warehouse. The names of the companies were not featured in the report.
As part of the criminal investigation into the breaking of fire safety regulations, four individuals were taken into custody. Another suspect was released on bail. The identities and positions of these individuals are also unknown.
Under new rules signed by Mirziyoyev on November 6, the Emergency Ministry has been entrusted with responsibility for the storage, transportation, and disposal of explosive chemical substances.
Starting from January 1, the customs committee will be required to provide full information to the Emergency Ministry about the import of chemical substances and which parties are involved in the import operation. The overhauled rules also stipulate that storage of chemical substances is now permitted only in warehouses that adhere to the requirements for preventing fires and industrial safety.