China beaches closed after oil spill

More than 23 tonnes of oil-eating bacteria and dozens of oil-skimming vessels are being used to remove the slick.

Beijing: Chinese authorities have closed several beaches and an island resort near the major port of Dalian as they try to clean up an oil spill that has affected crude shipments, state media said on Wednesday.

Tourists were barred from Bangchui island and city beaches amid ongoing efforts to clean up the slick that stretches over at least 183 square kilometres (70 square miles) of ocean, the China Daily newspaper said.

More than 23 tonnes of oil-eating bacteria and dozens of oil-skimming vessels are being used to remove the slick, after a pipeline explosion and fire on Friday sent tonnes of crude spilling into the sea.

Some state media reports put the amount of the spill at 1,500 tonnes, but others said the total amount was unknown. So far, at least 460 tonnes of oil have been scooped up, according to the Xinhua news agency.

Hundreds of soldiers and residents have been involved in the clean-up effort, the report said. One firefighter was killed on Tuesday after he was pushed into the ocean by a huge wave and drowned.

Authorities lifted a partial ban on port traffic on Tuesday after oil was cleared from the main shipping waterways, but the interruption in port access has affected shipments of oil from Dalian to the south of the country.

Dalian is China`s second-largest port for crude oil imports and a major domestic production hub, according to the China Daily.

Refineries in the port city are processing inventories so oil prices are not expected to be impacted, Xinhua said.

Workers in Dalian are using barriers to prevent the slick from spreading, but are concerned wind and heavy rain could worsen the situation.

Most of the hundreds of fishing boats called in to help the clean-up were forced to return to shore due to the poor weather conditions.

Bureau Report