China oil spill coats Yellow Sea in black
Image CC by FunkMunk/Flickr.

A pipeline explosion over the weekend has caused a massive oil slick to begin spreading in the Yellow Sea. Efforts are already under way in containing the China oil spill, as oil gathering vessels already have begun trying to soak up as much of the oil as possible. The work is certainly cut out for the containment workers; the oil slick currently covers 165 square miles of water. So far, it is nowhere near the size of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

China oil spill started with pipeline explosion

An oil pipeline exploded on Friday in Dalian, a port city in Liaoning province. The port is one of the largest ports of import in China. The explosion dumped thousands of tonnes of crude oil into the ocean, and set it alight. The fire raged for 15 hours before firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze. Oil containment crews began working to skim oil from the surface of the water, and over 1,000 individual vessels were mobilized for the purposes of containing the China oil spill, including ships carrying oil consuming bacteria.

Spill contained early

Tourist beaches were closed down, but normal shipping activity returned by Tuesday afternoon. The fire was extinguished early, but initial estimates of the size of the oil slick underestimated the amount of oil that had been released. The estimates for the area of water covered by oil has doubled as of Wednesday, though it is still far smaller than the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The China oil spill currently covers fewer than 200 square miles of ocean, whereas the BP oil spill covers more than 2,000 square miles of water. The government in Dalian estimates it will have the spill cleaned up within a week. The port is the second largest oil importing port in China.

Greenpeace sounds off

Greenpeace released a statement highlighting the China oil spill as proof positive that fossil fuel dependence is dangerous. The group also cites the number of coal mining accidents in addition to the Gulf oil spill. The pipelines that exploded were at an oil storage facility owned by the China National Petroleum Corporation.

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