Chinese Mayor Apologizes for Delayed Reporting of Chemical Spill

The mayor of a Chinese city is apologizing for waiting five days to report a chemical leak at a local factory.

Player utilities

This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

By then nearly nine tons of a toxic chemical called aniline had spilled into a local river and contaminated the water supply of a neighboring city.

Anchor Marco Werman finds out more from The World's Mary Kay Magistad in Beijing.

What is aniline?

Aniline is an organic compound with the formula C6H5NH2. Its main use is in the manufacture of precursors to polyurethane. It possesses a somewhat unpleasant odor like rotten fish. It ignites readily, burning with a smoky flame characteristic of aromatic compounds. Aniline is colorless, but it slowly oxidizes and resinifies in air, giving a red-brown tint to aged samples. The largest application of aniline is for the preparation of methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI). Other uses include rubber processing chemicals (9%), herbicides (2%), and dyes and pigments (2%). The principal use of aniline in the dye industry is as a precursor to indigo, the blue of blue jeans. Aniline is toxic by inhalation of the vapor, ingestion, or percutaneous absorption. (Sources: Wikipedia, International Programme on Chemical Safety)