China battles to keep spill from international waters
China was battling to keep an oil spill from reaching international waters yesterday, while an environmental group tried to assess if the country's largest reported spill was far worse than has been disclosed.
Crude oil started pouring into the Yellow Sea off a busy northeastern port after a pipeline exploded late last week, sparking a massive 15-hour fire. The government says the slick has spread across a 180 square-kilometre stretch of ocean. Images of 30-meter-high flames shooting up near part of China's strategic oil reserves drew the immediate attention of President Hu Jintao and other top leaders.
Now the challenge is cleaning up the greasy brown plume floating off the shores of Dalian, once named China's most livable city.
The environmental group, Greenpeace China, shot several photographs at the scene yesterday before their team was forced to leave. They showed oil-slicked rocky beaches, a man covered in thick black sludge up to his cheekbones, and workers carrying a colleague covered in oil away from the scene. His condition was not known.
Activists said it was too early to tell what impact the pollution might have on marine life in the region.
In a stroke of awkward timing, meanwhile, Dalian's International Beach Culture Festival, which draws thousands of tourists every year, started over the weekend, but the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported that waters around the beach had not been affected by the slick.