China seals oil port after spill
By Chen Aizhu and Ben Blanchard Chen Aizhu And Ben Blanchard
BEIJING (Reuters) – One of China’s biggest ports, Dalian, shut on Monday after an pipeline explosion triggered a major offshore oil spill, forcing a refinery to cut processing and importers to divert cargoes elsewhere.
The aftermath of the weekend fire could disrupt shipments of oil, iron ore and soy and add to pressure for stricter environmental standards in China, already reeling from a toxic copper mine leak in the south of the country which burst into headlines last week amid accusations of a cover up.
The fire began on Friday while a crude oil tanker was being off-loaded.
Nobody was hurt, but hundreds of firefighters battled for more than 15 hours to douse the fire, and state media said about 1,500 tonnes of oil had spilled into the sea, causing a 183 sq km (71 sq mile) slick, 50 sq km of which was “severe.”
Of the 50 sq km area, 20 sq km had been cleaned up and 160 tonnes of oil had been collected by 6 p.m. (1000 GMT) on Monday the local government said in a statement. The clean up operation may take five days, it said, without giving a timeframe for the port.
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