Area near ship blocked for precaution; no abnormalities found in samples
China is working to deal with spilled oil from the sunken tanker Sanchi and is investigating the accident with relevant parties, the Ministry of Transport said on Thursday.
"By the end of Tuesday, more than 225.8 square nautical miles (770 square kilometers) of affected waters had been restored," said Zhi Guanglu, deputy director of the China Maritime Search and Rescue Center under the ministry.
Currently, five Chinese ships, one South Korean ship and one Japanese ship are cleaning polluted waters at the scene, taking various measures to absorb, retrieve or remove the oil, he added at a Beijing news conference on Thursday.
The Panama-registered Sanchi, which was owned by an Iranian company and carried 111,300 metric tons of highly flammable condensate oil or natural gas liquids, collided with a Hong Kong freighter, CR Crystal, on Jan 6 some 160 nautical miles east of Shanghai and burst into flames.
On Jan 14, the ship exploded and sank. A large amount of the spilled condensate burned on the sea's surface for a day.
In addition to condensate oil, the vessel also had nearly 1,900 tons of bunker fuel, "which could pose severe risks for the marine environment, thus the authorities have been closely monitoring it", Zhi said.
An area within 30 nautical miles of the sunken tanker has been blocked off and no fishing activities were allowed as a precautionary measure.
The eastern coastal region including Shanghai, Hangzhou and other cities in Zhejiang province have not been affected, Kang Xiaofeng, deputy director of the emergency department, China National Environmental Monitoring Center, said on Thursday.
No abnormalities have been found in ocean life from the 110 samples collected in a second survey, said Han Xu, deputy director of the fishery management bureau under the Ministry of Agriculture.
The survey will expand to cover a region with a radius of 90 nautical miles, he said.
Authorities promised continued monitoring of environmental and aquatic food security.
Maritime authorities in the Chinese mainland, Iran, Panama and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region signed an agreement for a joint investigation on Jan 25.
The investigation team has gone to Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, to check the Hong Kong freighter CR Crystal and the sailing recorder of the tanker Sanchi. The tanker's black box has been opened, but no details are available.