DALIAN - Ports across the country will soon experience operational overhauls to prevent another oil spill like the one in Dalian, Northeast China's Liaoning province.
In the wake of the accident, the Ministry of Transport, which oversees port operations, circulated a notice on Thursday urging local transport authorities to check on all ports handling dangerous chemicals by August.
Special teams will be sent periodically to patrol at major oil and chemical ports to help detect hidden hazards, according to the notice.
Ports handling oil, liquefied chemicals and gases are required to carry out checkups on themselves every two years. They should also prepare an emergency response plan and carry out drills, the notice said.
The ministry said it also plans to establish a database of all ports that handle dangerous articles.
An explosion rocked an oil pipeline by 0.9 meters in diameter at 6:20 pm on July 16, triggering an adjacent smaller pipeline to explode near Dalian Xingang Port. Both pipelines are owned by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).
The blasts unleashed a massive oil slick, and according to Monday's official survey results, about 366 square km of ocean were affected, including 52 square km that were polluted, and 12 square km that were classified as "severely" polluted.
On Thursday, local authorities were still making all-out efforts to contain the oil spill, mobilizing hundreds of fishing boats, specialized cleaning vessels, "oil-eating" bacteria and volunteers to reduce the environmental impact of the spill. Many volunteers are using their hands to clean up the oil in the water and the beaches.
Dalian is one of China's major oil production and distribution hubs. It also has popular beaches, many of which were closed after crude washed up on them.
The Shenyang Evening Post, a newspaper based in Liaoning's provincial capital Shenyang, reported on Thursday that oil had penetrated at least 30 cm into the sand at Poshiwan Beach.
The report also said three major aquaculture areas off the Dalian coast are under threat.
Clean-up workers are racing to clear the oil as quickly as possible.
Firefighter Zhang Liang, 25, drowned on Tuesday after a wave slammed him into the sea as he worked to clean a boat pump.
Amid the cleanup efforts, an oil tanker stopped at the Dalian Xingang Port on Thursday, the first tanker to do so since the explosion of the pipelines.
The tanker is scheduled to take on 35,000 tons of oil. Loading operations have yet to begin.
Meanwhile, the oil pipeline connecting Dalian Xingang Port and Dalian Petrochemicals that exploded has been repaired and has resumed operations.