Korean Oil Spill damages China’s coast

The crew of the 147,000-tonne Hebei Spirit stopped the leaking on 8 December, and pumped the remaining oil out of the last of three containers holed by a barge in a collision.

Major disaster: But with over 10,000 tonnes of crude oil spilled into the Yellow Sea and now polluting a long stretch of coastline, valuable sea farms were threatened, wrote Hyung Jin-Kim in The Daily telgraph (9/12/2007, p.4). A state of disaster has been declared in the region, where beaches and farms dependent on the sea have been badly affected around Taean, 120 kilometres southwest of Seoul. Over 6,600 people, backed by 90 boats and six planes, fought to remove oil drifting at sea or washing on to beaches. Lee Bong-Gil, who headed the Korea Coast Guard’s maritime pollution bureau, told Yonhap news agency: "The large size of the spill has made containment difficult but there will be no significant expansion of the oil considering the tide, wind and their speeds."

Seafood industry and birds at risk: Officials reported the oil slick washing onto beaches in Taean was already 17km long and 10m wide. He said that while there was no official damage report available yet, there were 445 sea farms in the area for oyster, abalone, clam and other seafood. The tanker was berthed 8km off Mallipo when it was struck. This stretch of coastline was one of Asia’s largest wetland areas, providing important habitat for migrating birds.

The Daily Telegraph, 9/12/2007, p. 4

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