Oil Spill in East China Sea Widens Following Iranian Oil Tanker Crash

17 January, 2018, 02:01 | Author: Dustin Murphy
  • Oil Spill in East China Sea Widens Following Iranian Oil Tanker Crash

China disputed claims Tuesday about inadequate efforts to save the crew of tanker Sanchi, saying they are "untrue and irresponsible".

China today dismissed as "untrue and irresponsible" the criticism that it made inadequate efforts to save 32 crew members who died after an Iranian oil tanker exploded and sank almost a week after colliding with a cargo ship off the coast of China. On January 8 the bulker was escorted by a rescue vessel into Zhoushan, south of Shanghai, where it is now moored.

All 21 crew aboard the Chinese ship were rescued after the collision, while all 32 members of Sanchi's crew - 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis - have been presumed dead, according to Sky News.

A rescue ship works to extinguish the fire on the stricken Iranian oil tanker Sanchi in the East China Sea last Wednesday.

Now an oil spill response team with two working vessels are working against the clock to clean the oil slicks and China's State Oceanic Administration is increasing its efforts on monitoring the oil slick situation and assessing the impact it might have on the ocean environment.

A rescue ship sails near the burning Sanchi.


The ship, which was carrying 136,000 tonnes or nearly a million barrels of condensate - an ultra-light, highly flammable crude oil - sank after several explosions weakened the hull.

Another body suspected to be from the ship was recovered from the sea on Monday and brought to Shanghai for identification.

According to Greenpeace, the oil spill has occurred in an important spawning ground for several species of fish and on a migratory pathway of many marine mammals, including three species of whale. But oil spills in general can be extremely damaging to the marine environment and require specialised clean-up expertise to minimise their impact, said Yvonne Sadovy, from the University of Hong Kong's school of biological sciences. Condensate is poisonous to marine organisms. The cargo is four times larger than the heavier crude on the Exxon Valdez spilled off Alaska in 1989, affecting about 1,300 miles of shoreline and destroying thousands of marine fauna.

The Chinese government said late on Tuesday it had not found a "large-scale" oil leak, and the ultra light oil, known as condensate, was burning off or evaporating so quickly it would leave little residue - less than 1 percent - within five hours of a spill.

A Suezmax tanker can hold a maximum of 5,000 tonnes of bunker fuel.

"As the fuel oil cools, it will become more viscous which will help to slow or even prevent leaks", Greenpeace said. "Impact would remain relatively local".

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