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August 17, 2012

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City seeks compensation after big oil spill

SHANGHAI is asking for 10 million yuan (US$1.57 million) in compensation from the owner of the Netherlands-flagged cargo vessel that spilled more than 100 tons of fuel into the sea near the coast of Shanghai in June, the Shanghai Maritime Administration said yesterday.

The spill did not pollute Qingcaosha Reservoir, Shanghai's major source of drinking water, at the mouth of the Yangtze River but it contaminated water in the Nanhui area and Hangzhou Bay, officials said.

The ship, De Nederlandse Antillen and registered as Maxima, is still being held in Shanghai as no settlement has been reached yet.

"Usually the environmental protection bureau, the fishing administration and fishermen along with other relevant parties will demand compensation," said Chen Xiaoguang, deputy director with the maritime administration.

"We will see whether a settlement can be reached otherwise the case will go to court," Chen added.

The maritime and regional rescue teams said 114 tons of heavy fuel oil leaked from the Maxima after it collided with a Chinese ship on June 25. Authorities said the Maxima was mostly at fault for the accident.

"It's fortunate the spill did not reach anywhere near the Qingcaosha Reservoir," Chen said.

But the leak, one of the most severe in recent years in Shanghai, polluted Guanhai Park in Nanhui as the fuel washed ashore, a beach in Jinshan District and required a lot of manpower to clean it up.

Companies hired to clean up the fuel said it "was a tough job to clean and remove the fuel due to strong winds and high waves."

Meanwhile, the maritime authority reported three other fuel leaks in Shanghai waters and pledged to tighten oversight of the transport of hazardous chemicals around local ports.

In another case, the city demanded 4 million yuan in compensation after a domestic ship sank in May and spilled more than 10 tons of oil.

"I am more worried about chemical spills than the oil spills," Chen said.

About 27 million tons of chemical products go through Shanghai ports each year, posing a potential threat to water safety.

A phenol leak in neighboring Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province, earlier this year shocked the public and raised concern about the issue.

Meanwhile, maritime authorities reported yesterday that four people were killed or missing in the first half of this year in 11 water traffic accidents. Both the death toll and accidents decreased from the first six months of last year.


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