Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Iranian Tanker Leaves Massive Oil Slick, Worries Mount Over Environmental Damage

Energy

Experts have expressed concern about the potential environmental aftermath of a stricken Iranian oil tanker that exploded and sank in the East China Sea on Sunday.

The Sanchi—carrying 150,000 tons, or nearly 1 million barrels, of condensate oil—collided with the CF Crystal on Jan 6. The tanker caught fire and burned for more than a week before sinking. Iranian officials said all 32 crew members on the tanker were killed.


According to the BBC, Chinese ships are racing to clean up a 46 square mile oil slick left behind. The slick is thought to be made up of heavy fuel used to power the vessel.

BBC's China Correspondent Robin Brant reported that the oil slick has more than doubled in size since Sunday, noting that the big concern now is the environmental impact.

There could also be a very tall plume of condensate oil underneath the surface, Brant noted. Condensate is an ultra-light oil that is highly toxic and much more explosive than regular crude oil.

Experts worry that ship's sinking would likely expel the remaining condensate and the tanker's bunker fuel, contaminating the surrounding waters, Reuters reported.

According to Reuters, "bunker fuel is the dirtiest kind of oil, extremely toxic when spilled, though less explosive. Condensate is poisonous to marine organisms."

As Rick Steiner, a U.S. marine scientist explained to the news service, the East China Sea is known for its rich—but already polluted—marine ecosystem that includes whales, porpoises and seabirds.

"As with all major oil spills, time is of the essence. This is particularly so with condensate spills, as the substance is so toxic and volatile," said Steiner.

In a statement, Greenpeace said the explosion and sinking occurred in "an important (fish) spawning ground."

"At this time of year the area is used as wintering ground by common edible species such as hairtail, yellow croaker, chub mackerel and blue crab. The area is also on the migratory pathway of many marine mammals, such as humpback whale, right whale and gray whale," the environmental organization said.

Teng Da from the Chinese Oceanic Administration told CGTN, "Now that the tanker has sunk, what comes next to the ecological system the government should watch very closely."

Recycling and general waste plastic wheelie bins awaiting collection for disposal in Newport, Rhode Island. Tim Graham / Getty Images

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. According to The National Museum of American History, this popular slogan, with its iconic three arrows forming a triangle, embodied a national call to action to save the environment in the 1970s. In that same decade, the first Earth Day happened, the EPA was formed and Congress passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, encouraging recycling and conservation of resources, Enviro Inc. reported.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The coal-fired Huaneng Power Plant in Huai 'an City, Jiangsu Province, China on Sept. 13, 2020. Costfoto / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

One of the silver linings of the coronavirus pandemic was the record drop in greenhouse gas emissions following national lockdowns. But that drop is set to all but reverse as economies begin to recover, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
Trending
A grizzly bear killed an outdoor guide in a rare attack near Yellowstone Park. William Campbell / Corbis / Getty Images

A backcountry guide has died after being mauled by a grizzly bear near Yellowstone National Park.

Read More Show Less
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) re-introduces the Green New Deal in Washington, D.C. on April 20, 2021. Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images

By Brett Wilkins

In the latest of a flurry of proposed Green New Deal legislation, Reps. Cori Bush and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday introduced the Green New Deal for Cities Act of 2021, a $1 trillion plan to "tackle the environmental injustices that are making us and our children sick, costing us our homes, and destroying our planet."

Read More Show Less
Offshore oil and gas drillers have left more than 18,000 miles of pipelines at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Offshore oil and gas drillers have discarded and abandoned more than 18,000 miles of pipelines on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico since the 1960s, a report from the Government Accountability Office says.

Read More Show Less