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May 8, 2010

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Home » Metro » Environment

An offshore oil spill could happen here, officials say

WITH offshore petroleum facilities showing their age, Shanghai is subject to the threat of a catastrophic oil spill similar to the disaster now plaguing the Gulf of Mexico, sea administration officials warn.

Five offshore petroleum platforms are located on East China Sea, 300 kilometers from Shanghai. The oil pipelines and other facilities are reaching their life expectancy, which increases the chance of serious leaking, according to Jia Jianjun, deputy director of the East China Sea Bureau.

"In our working experience, the service life of oil pipelines is 12 or 13 years on average," said Jia.

Some platforms have been already serving for over a decade.

An oil spill incident occurred in the Zhoushan Islands area southeast of Shanghai a decade ago. A total of 2.3 million tons of oil leaked into the ocean.

To reduce the risk of an oil leak, the bureau is stepping up its monitoring and inspections of the offshore petroleum platforms near the city.

The bureau has drawn up a detailed emergency plan to deal with oil leaks, taking more measurements of environmental conditions around the platforms. It plans to send out airplanes and ships to patrol around the platforms every week.

Jia said the primary mission was to discover any oil leak quickly and to minimize any damage. But once an incident occurred, they would have only sponges to use against an oil flow to the shores, as technical knowledge is lagging.


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