Crews use bare hands to clean the spreading oil spill in northeast China
Posted by Author on July 22, 2010
AFP, July 22, 2010 –
BEIJING — Chinese authorities battled Thursday to contain an oil spill on the country’s northeast coast amid reports it was spreading and as warnings emerged of a heavy long-term environmental impact.
The government has mobilised hundreds of fishing boats and other vessels to clean up the spill that occurred in the port city of Dalian, but Greenpeace said many people thrown into the effort were reduced to using their bare hands.
The spill happened last Friday after two pipelines exploded at an oil storage depot, triggering a spectacular blaze that burned throughout the weekend.
Officials said shortly after the spill that about 1,500 tonnes of oil were spilled into the Yellow Sea off Liaoning province.
A government estimate Monday said the slick had affected 435 square kilometres (around 170 square miles) of the Yellow Sea.
However, a report late Wednesday said the slick had spread to 946 square kilometres, and stretched as far as 90 kilometres along the coast. The report appeared in the Shenyang Evening News, based in the provincial capital.
The government has said about 40 special oil-skimming vessels were leading the clean-up and that 23 tonnes of oil-eating bacteria were being employed.
China National Petroleum Corp, the country’s biggest oil company and owner of the pipelines that exploded, said in a statement on its website Thursday that at least 400 tonnes of the spilt oil had been cleaned up already.
Zhong Yu, a Greenpeace campaigner observing the clean-up efforts, however said many of the mobilised civilians and firefighters had no equipment or protective gear.
“The citizens-turned-cleaners we saw yesterday in the sea basically did not have any protective gear and could only use their hands to clean up the oil,” she told AFP by phone.
Zhong said tourist beaches and other long stretches of coast were awash with black sludge up to 30 centimetres (one foot) thick near the shore.
“There is a strong smell of acid and oil in the air,” she said.
The economic impact was already being felt by businesses in the area, with state press reports saying tourist beaches normally crammed with summer visitors were empty. Some beaches were officially closed to the public.
The area also has a major fishing industry, but catches had been banned for now……. (more details from AFP)
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.