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Published on Friday, February 16, 2018

Oil Tanker Spill in China


On January 6th 2018, an oil tanker headed to south Korea collided with a freight ship in the East China Sea, an area now known as the “New Bermuda Triangle” due to the 33 ship disappearances in 2016. This however, is no ordinary collision. The ship was carrying 150,000 tons of condensate, a toxic light oil, which due to its nature imposes a new threats to the environment. Unlike crude oil which is a dense oil that sinks to the bottom of the sea and remains there for years, hydrocarbon condensate usually evaporates while also dissolving in the water. This, therefore, can introduce a short term toxicity which can lead to a environmental disaster.

Although part of the fuel combusted after the collision, there are still many unknown elements such as the size of the spill and chemical composition, making it difficult to predict where and how much damage will result from this accident. However, it is certain that the fire and toxic fumes that resulted from the collision have killed off marine mammals, fish, and birds that were in the vicinity during and after the collision. The toxic fumes also prevented rescue teams from approaching the vessel after the collision for a few days.

According to Japanese Coast Guards, oil clumps predicted to be be from the spill began to wash up on the island of Amami-Oshima in Southern Japan. Last month however, the ministry of China stated that they don’t think that that the spill will reach the coasts of Japan. This shows the extent of the oil spill and the urgency required to know the size of the spill and a clean up operation.

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