Large China oil spill threatens sea life, water -Three Oil Spills - Gulf of Mexico, China and Egypt
Large China oil spill threatens sea life, water
By CARA ANNA, Associated Press Writer
Wed Jul 21, 3:46 pm ET
BEIJING - China's largest reported oil spill emptied beaches along the Yellow Sea as its size doubled Wednesday, while cleanup efforts included straw mats and frazzled workers with little more than rubber gloves.
An official warned the spill posed a "severe threat" to sea life and water quality as China's latest environmental crisis spread off the shores of Dalian, once named China's most livable city.
One cleanup worker has drowned, his body coated in crude.
"I've been to a few bays today and discovered they were almost entirely covered with dark oil," said Zhong Yu with environmental group Greenpeace China, who spent the day on a boat inspecting the spill.
"The oil is half-solid and half liquid and is as sticky as asphalt," she told The Associated Press by telephone.
The oil had spread over 165 square miles (430 square kilometers) of water five days since a pipeline at the busy northeastern port exploded, hurting oil shipments from part of China's strategic oil reserves to the rest of the country. Shipments remained reduced Wednesday.
State media has said no more oil is leaking into the sea, but the total amount of oil spilled is not yet clear.
Greenpeace China released photos Wednesday of inky beaches and of straw mats about 2 square meters (21 square feet) in size scattered on the sea, meant to absorb the oil.
Fishing in the waters around Dalian has been banned through the end of August, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.
"The oil spill will pose a severe threat to marine animals, and water quality, and the sea birds," Huang Yong, deputy bureau chief for the city's Maritime Safety Administration, told Dragon TV.
At least one person died during cleanup efforts. A 25-year-old firefighter, Zhang Liang, drowned Tuesday when a wave threw him from a vessel, Xinhua reported.
Officials, oil company workers and volunteers were turning out by the hundreds to clean blackened beaches.
"We don't have proper oil cleanup materials, so our workers are wearing rubber gloves and using chopsticks," an official with the Jinshitan Golden Beach Administration Committee told the Beijing Youth Daily newspaper, in apparent exasperation.
"This kind of inefficiency means the oil will keep coming to shore. ... This stretch of oil is really difficult to clean up in the short term."
But 40 oil-skimming boats and about 800 fishing boats were also deployed to clean up the spill, and Xinhua said more than 15 kilometers (9 miles) of oil barriers had been set up to keep the slick from spreading.
China Central Television earlier reported an estimate of 1,500 tons of oil has spilled. That would amount roughly to 400,000 gallons (1,500,000 liters) - as compared with 94 million to 184 million gallons in the BP oil spill off the U.S. coast.
China's State Oceanic Administration released the latest size of the contaminated area in a statement Tuesday.
The cause of the explosion that started the spill was still not clear. The pipeline is owned by China National Petroleum Corp., Asia's biggest oil and gas producer by volume.
Friday's images of 100-foot-high (30-meter-high) flames at China's second largest port for crude oil imports drew the immediate attention of President Hu Jintao and other top leaders. Now the challenge is cleaning up the greasy plume.
"Our priority is to collect the spilled oil within five days to reduce the possibility of contaminating international waters," Dalian's vice mayor, Dai Yulin, told Xinhua on Tuesday.
But an official with the State Oceanic Administration has warned the spill will be difficult to clean up even in twice that amount of time.
Some locals said the area's economy was already hurting.
"Let's wait and see how well they deal with the oil until Sept. 1, if the oil can't be cleaned up by then, the seafood products will all be ruined," an unnamed fisherman told Dragon TV. "No one will buy them in the market because of the smell of the oil."
Associated Press researcher Yu Bing in Beijing contributed to this report.
Egypt Oil Leak:
Egypt Oil Spill threatens Red Sea Marine Life
As the Gulf spill continues, a new catastrophe could damage a sensitive ecosystem off the Egyptian coast.
Sun Jun 20, 2010 07:16 PM ET | content provided by AFP
An oil spill off the Egyptian Red Sea coast of Hurghada threatening to damage marine life in the area has prompted environmental agencies to demand tighter regulation of offshore oil platforms.
Large quantities of oil have appeared in recent days around the resorts of Hurghada which draw millions of tourists who come to dive or snorkle, according to the Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Agency (HEPCA).
"It started four or five days ago and the companies responsible didn't notify anyone. It is catastrophic," HEPCA Managing Director Amr Ali told AFP.
The spill was caused by leakage from an offshore oil platform north of Hurghada and has polluted protected areas and showed up on tourist beach resorts.
"The companies have said they will pay damages, but it is the environmental damage that we are concerned about," Ali said, declining to name the companies for legal reasons.
"We will take all measures, including legal, to make sure this does not happen again," he said.
HEPCA's warning comes amid ongoing efforts to contain the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico which has already damaged fragile ecosystems along the US south coast and halted the region's multi-billion-dollar fishing industry.
HEPCA, a non-governmental organization based in Hurghada, has been working for the protection of natural resources in the Red Sea.
Egypt's environment and tourism ministries said the oil spill was contained and that measures were being taken to "deal with the pollution caused by the spill," the official MENA news agency reported.
Authorities protective of the lucrative tourism industry were eager to resolve the matter quickly. Both the Environment Minister Maged George and Petroleum Minister Sameh Fahmy visited the area of the spill on Saturday.
But HEPCA says it was too little too late.
"Visits won't help. We would like to see a clearer plan of action on the ground," Ali said.
"We would also like to see more stringent standards imposed on these offshore platforms to ensure natural areas are protected," he said.
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