The oil spill from NITC oil tanker Sanchi has spread significantly across the East China Sea with environmental groups now warning of a marine disaster. The fully laden crude tanker suffered a major explosion and sank on Sunday.
According to China’s Ministry of Transport, the fire has burned out on the water but the oil slick on the surface has expanded rapidly in the past 24 hours.
China’s State Oceanic Administration said several oil slicks have already been found, including one nearly 15 km long and another covering an area of 58 sq km.
The administration added that the oil slicks are likely to move northward due to wind and sea currents.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has called for the urgent mobilisation of all available containment equipment to remove the toxic slick and reduce the threat it poses to marine life.
“We now have an environmental disaster unfolding before our eyes. The stricken tanker is leaking its cargo of condensate, which is toxic to marine mammals, fish, sea turtles and seabirds,” WWF said in a statement.
Currently an oil spill response team with two working vessels are working against the clock to clean the oil slicks and China’s State Oceanic Administration is increasing its efforts on monitoring the oil slick situation and assessing the impact it might have on the ocean environment.
All 32 crew of the stricken tanker are thought to have perished. A fierce fire broke out on the ship after it collided with a Chinese bulker, CF Crystal, off Shanghai which led to its sinking a week later.
Iranian officials have said it could take months to decipher what was contained on the Sanchi’s VDR, which was bravely taken off the burning ship a day before it sank by four Chinese rescuers.