China Tried to Play Down Size of Bohai Bay Oil Spill

      July 14, 2011 08:59

      The sea area polluted in an oil spill in China's Bohai Bay was five times as large as Beijing previously announced. A probe conducted by the Chinese State Oceanic Administration found that some 4,240 sq.km of water, or seven times the size of Seoul, were polluted by oil leaks from the Peng Lai 19-3 oilfield in Bohai Bay, the daily Xin Jing Bao reported Wednesday.

      Beijing admitted the oil spill for the first time on July 5, a month after two oil leaks occurred at China's largest marine oilfield on June 4 and 17, saying only 840 sq.km were polluted. But the water quality of a 3,400 sq.km area nearby dropped from Grade 1 to Grade 3.

      China National Offshore Oil Corp. and ConocoPhillips, the joint operators of the oilfield, said the oil spill was quickly contained and cleaned up, but earlier this week Beijing admitted that oil continues to leak out.

      The Chinese government on Wednesday ordered the operators to suspend production until there is no more danger of further spills. Concern is increasing about the safety of seafood from the West Sea. The city of Yantai in Shandong Province near the ill-fated oilfield has set up an observation post on the coast to check for pollution.

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