Economic activity in the north-eastern port has been seriously disrupted. Six “very large crude carriers”, with about 12m barrels of oil, were expected to be diverted, possibly to South Korea or other terminals in China with the capacity for such large vessels. Ships carrying imported corn have also been forced to dock elsewhere.
Thousands of firefighters have doused the flames and port engineers have staunched the leak, but the clean-up mission will take at least four more days, according to the domestic media.
Officials said the dispersal operation was making progress despite rough seas. Considerably smaller in scale than the BP leak in the Gulf of Mexico, the slick has reportedly shrunk by more than a third from its peak of 50 square kilometres.
But local reporters said the crude was evident on nearby beaches, where patches of sand and rocks were coated in a layer of oil.
The leak is likely to add to persistent calls for tighter environmental regulation in China. The need for improved standards was also highlighted by a toxic spill from a copper mine in Fujian month that poisoned a major river, killed countless fish and threatened the drinking supplies of downstream communities.
The director of the Environmental Inspection Office, Zou Zhimin, told the local media that the state council – China’s cabinet – have arranged inspections of safety standards at petrochemical sites across the country.”