China spots four oil slicks from sunken tanker

Source:AFP Published: 2018/1/18 23:03:41

Chinese rescue ships are seen cleaning an oil slick from the sunken Iranian oil tanker Sanchi in the East China Sea, in this photo released by China's Ministry of Transport on Thursday. Photo: VCG

The spill from a sunken Iranian tanker off China's east coast has spawned four oil slicks as authorities prepared to send robots to the wreckage to assess the environmental damage.

The Sanchi, which was carrying 136,000 tons of light crude oil from Iran, sank in a ball of flames in the East China Sea on Sunday, a week after colliding with Hong Kong-registered bulk freighter the CF Crystal.

The bodies of only three of 30 Iranian and two Bangladeshi crew members have been found.

Chinese State Oceanic Administration  said late Wednesday that it was monitoring four slicks with a total area of almost 101 square kilometers, roughly the same size as Paris.

The office is attempting to "control the spread of the oil spill and is carrying out work to estimate its impact on the marine ecological environment," it said on its website.

The type of condensate oil carried by the Sanchi does not form a traditional surface slick when spilt, but is nonetheless highly toxic to marine life and much harder to separate from water.

Japan's coast guard said Thursday a patrol ship and plane examined the oil spill and found that it was spreading 30 kilometers east and eight kilometers northwest from the wreck, with a maximum width of 800 metres.

"The swathe of oil slick is being diffused and disappearing," the coast guard said in a statement. "Chinese and other patrol ships continue to look for missing [crew] members and carrying out oil removal missions."

On Tuesday, China had reported two slicks measuring about 69 square kilometers and an additional 40-square-kilometre area of "scattered" oil.

The transport ministry said late Wednesday the vessel lay at a depth of around 115 metres and that robots would be deployed to explore the shipwreck.



Posted in: ASIA-PACIFIC,ENVIRONMENT,CHINA FOCUS

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