China Dalian Oil Spill Cleaned 9 Days After Accident

Reuters reports on the clean-up of the Dalian oil spill:

Nearly 8,000 workers and hundreds of fishing boats have managed to clean up the oil spill off the major northern Chinese port Dalian, nine days after a pipeline blast leaked 1,500 tonnes of heavy crude into the sea.

“By 6 p.m. (1000 GMT) yesterday, the oil spill has been all removed and the slick has basically been cleaned…the contamination has not spread to international waters or the Bohai Sea,” the official Dalian Daily cited government officials as saying on Monday.

Around the same time Dalian reopened two berths at its Xingang oil terminal, each able to dock 150,000 dead weight tonnage tankers and 80,000 dwt vessels, Dalian Port Co, which owns part of the facilities, said on Sunday.

The authorities had mobilised 800 fishing boats together with specialist clean-up vessels, using dispersants, absorbents and oil-eating bacteria to clean up the more than 180 square kilometre slick.

Tim Collard writes more about the clean-up process and information disclosure in his Telegraph blog:

The Chinese, of course, have found themselves woefully unprepared. Greenpeace have reported that a lot of the clean-up work is being done by local fishermen, pressed into service without even minimal equipment. “They don’t even have face masks, the most basic and necessary of precautions. They don’t even know that they need to protect their skin from crude oil,” a Chinese Greenpeace activist has said. But the authorities are finally lumbering into action, with the People’s Liberation Army mobilised and oil-skimming boats deployed. Apparently a local biotechnology firm has come up with a strain of oil-eating bacteria, which are getting their first serious practical try-out.

So China is moving on from the times when an environmental disaster was purely the business of the State Council Information Office and their media-manipulation apparatus. This is welcome. But the sorry state of preparedness for such events shows that they have still quite a long way to go.

July 26, 2010 3:37 PM
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