Quantcast

Oil Spill From Sanchi May Have Reached Japan

Energy
Coastline in Amami City, Kagoshima. TANAKA Juuyoh / Flickr

By Andy Rowell

Oil from the stricken oil tanker Sanchi, which exploded and sank in the East China Sea, may have now reached the shores of Japan, according to the country's Coast Guard.

Reuters reported Friday that residents on the Japanese Amami-Oshima islands, famed for pristine beaches and reefs, have reported black oil clumps being washed up.


Officials are now checking to find out whether the oil is from the Iranian registered tanker, which was carrying an estimated 136,000 tonnes of condensate when it sank in mid-January, with the loss of all 32 members of the crew. It also had nearly 1,900 tonnes of bunker fuel oil on board.

It is unknown if the ultra light condensate could form black oily clumps or if indeed this is even the heavier bunker oil. But if the oil has come from the Sanchi, then this would be a serious setback for Japanese authorities, who said last month that there was little chance the spill would reach the county's shores.

This optimism, however, was contradicted by scientists from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and the University of Southampton in the UK. As I reported earlier in the week, they plotted the path of the spill and believed it could reach Japanese shores "within a month."

If this is indeed condensate from the Sanchi, then the speed of the spill will also alarm authorities and scientists alike, as it has reached Japan faster than the models predicted.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Transport said Thursday at a press conference that more than 225 square nautical miles (770 square kilometers) of affected waters "had been restored."

The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture is also claiming that from over 100 marine samples, "no abnormalities" had been found so far, and they would keep on monitoring. A 30 nautical mile exclusion zone remains around the site of the accident with fishing prohibited.

Earlier this week, an Iranian member of the multinational team set up to investigate the accident said his government was now studying the black box data recorder from the tanker to find out how and why the accident happened.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

U.S. Secretary of the Treasure Steven Mnuchin arrives for a welcome dinner at the Murabba Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Feb. 22, 2020 during the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP via Getty Images

Finance ministers from the 20 largest economies agreed to add a scant mention of the climate crisis in its final communiqué in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Sunday, but they stopped short of calling it a major economic risk, as Reuters reported. It was the first time the G20 has mentioned the climate crisis in its final communiqué since Donald Trump became president in 2017.

Read More
Aerial view of Parque da Cachoeira, which suffered the January 2019 dam collapse, in Brumadinho, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil — one of the country's worst industrial accidents that left 270 people dead. Millions of tons of toxic mining waste engulfed houses, farms and waterways, devastating the mineral-rich region. DOUGLAS MAGNO / AFP / Getty Images

By Christopher Sergeant, Julian D. Olden

Scars from large mining operations are permanently etched across the landscapes of the world. The environmental damage and human health hazards that these activities create may be both severe and irreversible.

Read More
Sponsored
Participants of the climate demonstration Fridays for Future walk through Hamburg, Germany on Feb. 21, 2020. Axel Heimken / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

U.S.-based youth climate activists on Friday drew attention to the climate protest in Hamburg, Germany, where organizers said roughly 60,000 people took part, and hoped that Americans took inspiration from their European counterparts.

Read More
Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) surfacing, showing the remains of a blow and its mottled appearance near South Georgia Island in the Polar Regions. Mick Baines & Maren / Getty Images

The largest animal on Earth is proving that wildlife protections work.

Read More
A pipeline that ruptured in Mississippi Saturday, forcing hundreds to evacuate. Yazoo County Emergency Management Agency

More than 300 people were forced to evacuate and 46 were sent to the hospital after a gas pipeline ruptured in Mississippi Saturday.

Read More