Quantcast

Sanchi Oil Spill Has Already Caused 'Serious Ecological Injury'

Energy
http://noc.ac.uk

By Andy Rowell

The Sanchi oil spill in the East China Sea could potentially be one of the worst tanker spills in decades, experts are warning, even though the spill has now largely disappeared from news reports.

Work by scientists from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and the University of Southampton, who have plotted where the condensate ends up, believe that the spill could even reach Japan within a month. In doing so, it could severely impact locally important reefs, fishing grounds and protected marine areas.


An Iranian tanker, the Sanchi sank on Jan. 14 after colliding with a cargo ship and setting fire. Thirty two members of the crew were lost.

The ship was carrying 136,000 tons of ultra-light condensate when it sank. What is puzzling scientists is where this will end up and how much damage will be caused.

The scientists from Southampton predict that the condensate could enter the regionally important Kuroshio current and then be "transported quickly along the southern coasts of Kyushu, Shikoku and Honshu islands, potentially reaching the Greater Tokyo Area within 2 months. Pollution within the Kuroshio may then be swept into deeper oceanic waters of the North Pacific."

According to the scientists, "The revised simulations suggest that pollution from the spill may be distributed much further and faster than previously thought, and that larger areas of the coast may be impacted."

Their recent simulations "also shift the focus of possible impacts from South Korea to the Japanese mainland, where many more people and activities, including fisheries, may be affected."

Another issue concerning scientists is the toxic nature of condensate and how we are entering the unknown. Simon Boxall, of the University of Southampton's National Oceanography Centre, told the BBC earlier this month, "It's not like crude, which does break down under natural microbial action. This stuff actually kills the microbes that break the oil down."

Indeed, as an article in the scientific journal Nature recently noted about the condensate, "The lighter petroleum that spilled has never before been released in such massive quantities in the ocean."

Rick Steiner, a former University of Alaska professor in Anchorage and global expert on oil spills, including the Exxon Valdez, told Nature, "This is charting new ground, unfortunately. This is probably one of the most unique spills ever."

In other news reports, Steiner, who has been outspoken since the disaster, talks of the spill being "a very big deal. There has been serious ecological injury."

How much injury or what type, we don't know yet. As usual with oil spills, it will take time for the impact to become truly apparent. Ralph Portier is a marine microbiologist and toxicologist at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He told Nature, "Most oil spills have a chronic toxicological effect due to heavy residuals remaining and sinking over time. This may be one of the first spills where short-term toxicity is of most concern."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Oil Change International.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Aerial assessment of Hurricane Sandy damage in Connecticut. Dannel Malloy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Extreme weather events supercharged by climate change in 2012 led to nearly 1,000 more deaths, more than 20,000 additional hospitalizations, and cost the U.S. healthcare system $10 billion, a new report finds.

Read More Show Less
Giant sequoia trees at Sequoia National Park, California. lucky-photographer / iStock / Getty Images Plus

A Bay Area conservation group struck a deal to buy and to protect the world's largest remaining privately owned sequoia forest for $15.6 million. Now it needs to raise the money, according to CNN.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
This aerial view shows the Ogasayama Sports Park Ecopa Stadium, one of the venues for 2019 Rugby World Cup. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP / Getty Images

The Rugby World Cup starts Friday in Japan where Pacific Island teams from Samoa, Fiji and Tonga will face off against teams from industrialized nations. However, a new report from a UK-based NGO says that when the teams gather for the opening ceremony on Friday night and listen to the theme song "World In Union," the hypocrisy of climate injustice will take center stage.

Read More Show Less
Vera_Petrunina / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Wudan Yan

In June, New York Times journalist Andy Newman wrote an article titled, "If seeing the world helps ruin it, should we stay home?" In it, he raised the question of whether or not travel by plane, boat, or car—all of which contribute to climate change, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers—might pose a moral challenge to the responsibility that each of us has to not exacerbate the already catastrophic consequences of climate change. The premise of Newman's piece rests on his assertion that traveling "somewhere far away… is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change."

Read More Show Less
Volunteer caucasian woman giving grain to starving African children. Bartosz Hadyniak / E+ / Getty Images

By Frances Moore Lappé

Food will be scarce, expensive and less nutritious," CNN warns us in its coverage of the UN's new "Climate Change and Land" report. The New York Times announces that "Climate Change Threatens the World's Food Supply."

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
British Airways 757. Jon Osborne / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Adam Vaughan

Two-thirds of people in the UK think the amount people fly should be reined in to tackle climate change, polling has found.

Read More Show Less
Climate Week NYC

On Monday, Sept. 23, the Climate Group will kick off its 11th annual Climate Week NYC, a chance for governments, non-profits, businesses, communities and individuals to share possible solutions to the climate crisis while world leaders gather in the city for the UN Climate Action Summit.

Read More Show Less

By Pam Radtke Russell in New Orleans

Local TV weather forecasters have become foot soldiers in the war against climate misinformation. Over the past decade, a growing number of meteorologists and weathercasters have begun addressing the climate crisis either as part of their weather forecasts, or in separate, independent news reports to help their viewers understand what is happening and why it is important.

Read More Show Less