Fri, July 23, 2010
China > Mainland > Dalian oil spill

China races to prevent oil slick spreading to open sea

2010-07-21 14:47:03 GMT2010-07-21 22:47:03 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Volunteers clean up the spilled oil on a beach in Shicao Village of Dalian, northeast China's Liaoning Province, July 21, 2010. Volunteers from Dalian Environment Protection Volunteer Association joined in clean-up work of spilled crude oil caused by the oil pipeline explosion occurred on July 16 in Dalian. (Xinhua/Li Gang)

Volunteers lay straw mats to absorb spilled oil on a beach in Shicao Village of Dalian, northeast China's Liaoning Province, July 21, 2010. Volunteers from Dalian Environment Protection Volunteer Association joined in clean-up work of spilled crude oil caused by the oil pipeline explosion occurred on July 16 in Dalian. (Xinhua/Li Gang)

Volunteers clean up the spilled oil on a beach in Shicao Village of Dalian, northeast China's Liaoning Province, July 21, 2010. Volunteers from Dalian Environment Protection Volunteer Association joined in clean-up work of spilled crude oil caused by the oil pipeline explosion occurred on July 16 in Dalian. (Xinhua/Li Gang)

DALIAN, July 21 (Xinhua) -- China is speeding up its clean-up of an oil spill to stop it from spreading into the open ocean, five days after pipelines exploded here, causing a lingering oil spill that has spread to tourist beaches.

The slick has reached Dalian tourist attractions: the Golden Pebble Beach and the beach of Bangchui Island. One third of Golden Pebble Beach is covered by the greasy pollution, and large amounts of oil were also found on the beach of Bangchui Island, according to the State Oceanic Administration Wednesday.

Monitoring vessels could not conduct the daily survey of the oil spill Tuesday because of rough weather. According to Monday's survey, about 366 square kilometers of ocean was affected, including 52 square kilometers that were polluted and 12 square kilometers that were classified as "severely" polluted.

Clean-up staff are competing with the time to prevent the oil from reaching the international waters.

The Maritime Affairs Administration of Liaoning Province has mobilized all staff under the age of 50 to join in the clean-up, including helping direct sea traffic and clean up the slick.

The clean-up started last Saturday. On Tuesday, Dalian officials said they have in total mobilized forty special oil-skimming vessels and about 800 fishing boats to mop up most of the slick by the weekend.

"Our priority is to collect the majority of the oil within five days to reduce the possibility of it contaminating international waters," Dai Yulin, vice mayor of Dalian City, Liaoning Province, told Xinhua Tuesday.

Further, he said maritime agencies have set up 40 monitoring stations to watch a 1,500-square-kilometer area off the city's coast.

Maritime agencies and oil companies have laid down more than 15,000 meters of oil barriers to prevent the slick from spreading while biotechnicians are using 23 tonnes of oil-eating bacteria to dissolve toxic compounds in the oil-polluted waters.

A 25-year-old firefighter, Zhang Liang, drowned Tuesday after the wave took him away when he went underwater to clean the boat pump. Another man who was thrown into the sea by the wave was rescued.

The Dalian oil reserve is at the heart of northeast China's crude oil production base and it is one of China's largest oil industry bases while Dalian Port is China's second largest port for crude oil imports.

The oil pipeline blasts in Dalian last Friday have affected refined oil supplies in southern China but oil prices there will not climb as a result, industry analysts said Tuesday.

Chinese petroleum companies have had to reduce oil shipments from Dalian to southern Chinese provinces because the port had been partly closed since the incident.

On Tuesday, authorities lifted a partial ban on maritime traffic at Dalian. But local officials said oil shipments from Dalian would not be immediately restored.

PetroChina's north-to-south oil shipments from Dalian port -- usually 30,000 to 50,000 tonnes per day -- have been affected, said Chu Jiewang, an analyst at Shanghai-based C1 Energy Co. Ltd., a leading oil industry information provider.

Southern China refineries have scaled back operations while at least three China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) subsidiaries have reduced sales of refined oil in southern provinces, Xinhua was told.

The Maritime Affairs Administration of Liaoning Province reported that the berths in Dalian City have fully re-opened to traffic as of 5 p.m. Tuesday as waterways affected by the oil slick have largely been cleaned up.

Authorities said they have directed about 420 vessels away during the past four days due to shipping restrictions since the spill.

The incident happened when two crude pipelines exploded last Friday evening in Xingang Port in northeast China's Dalian City after a 300,000 tonne oil ship had unloaded its oil. The tanker left the harbor safely.

The amount of leaked oil remained unclear Wednesday.

An investigation team was formed Sunday to find out the cause of the incident. But no results have been released yet.

From June to late August fishing in the waters out from Dalian City is not allowed. Cao Chenglin, a Dalian fisherman, said his boat was too small to join the oil spill clean-up, but he worried if he would be able catch any fish when the season opened.

"It's heartbreaking. Hopefully the oil spill can cleaned up as soon as possible, " Cao said.

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