News / Asia

Chemical Agent Blamed in Chinese Oil Spill

Chinese investigators say weak safety procedures and chaotic management contributed to an oil pipeline explosion and spill that is fouling a large stretch of the Yellow Sea.

The State Administration of Work Safety said Friday in Beijing that workers erred by continuing to pour a chemical agent into a pipeline after a tanker had stopped unloading crude at the port of Dalian last week.

A preliminary official report found there was no safety procedure for adding the agent, which is used to strip sulfur from oil.  It said that after the accident, systems malfunctioned, management was chaotic and work flows were "not smooth."

China has ordered ports across the country to create emergency response teams and to hold regular safety drills in response to the accident.

A vital oil terminal at Dalian remains shut and an oil slick still covers 430 square kilometers of ocean off China's northeast coast.

The explosion set off a fire that raged for 15 hours and took 2,000 firefighters to extinguish.  Chinese media report 2,000 soldiers and 1,000 fishing boats are involved in the cleanup.

Environmental group Greenpeace warned Friday that beaches remain open in the area and that children have been seen playing in the water.  It urged the Chinese government to warn locals of the dangers.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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