Dalian Oil Spill and Beijing’s Lies

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An aerial photo, released by China's Xinhua news agency on July 17, 2010, shows an oil slick floating off the coast of Dalian, China. Efforts were under way to contain and clean up a large oil slick after pipeline explosions at the northeastern Chinese port sent greasy black plumes into the ocean, state media reported. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Tian Jingyue) #Kushibo has expressed concern about an oil spill in the Yellow Sea – and about Beijing’s misleading official pronouncements.

The government has said the pipeline exploded July 16 after workers continued to inject an agent to strip sulfur from oil after a tanker had finished unloading its cargo.

According to Steiner, firefighters at the scene later told Greenpeace China that workers had let oil escape from other tanks in the area to reduce the risk that another nearby tank containing the chemical dimethylbenzene would explode as well.

The oil terminal is owned by China National Petroleum Corp., Asia’s biggest oil and gas producer by volume.

Steiner said his estimates came from the fact the oil storage tank that was destroyed had a capacity of about 90,000 tons (27.70 million gallons) and reportedly had just been filled by the tanker.

He said his lower estimate of 60,000 tons (18.47 million gallons) came from the rate of oil recovery by thousands of fishing boats dispatched for the cleanup.

“They’ve already collected more oil than the official estimate of the spill size,” he told The Associated Press.

He praised the makeshift cleanup efforts: “Very low-tech. The thing is that it worked.”

But he said the thousands of cleanup workers face possible health concerns after being told to help out, receiving no protective gear and being coated in crude.

In addition, this year’s shellfish harvest has been wiped out, causing tens of millions of dollars of economic losses, he said. And many miles (kilometers) of beaches, the jewel of Dalian’s tourist industry, remain heavily oiled.

Some Chinese environmental experts have said the oil spill’s effects around Dalian, once named China’s most livable city, will be felt for years.

Both Steiner and Greenpeace China warned their oil spill estimates could be 50 percent off because of the lack of information about the spill and expressed their frustration, putting “information transparency” at the top of their list of demands Friday.

“(The oil) could have spread to North Korea by now. As far as we know, nobody knows,” Steiner told the news conference.

More horrendous photos available here.

Filed under: East Asia, Energy, Environment Tagged: china, dalian, oil spill, prc


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