The fears of a major oil spill from the Iranian tanker Sanchi, which remains ablaze off the east coast of China for the fourth day, are diminishing as initial estimates show that no more than 1 percent of the condensate was recorded on the water surface, China’s Ministry of Transport said in the latest update.
The rescue vessels deployed on site have searched an area within 900 square miles from the vessel and did not find a large oil spill, the ministry said, adding that weather conditions at the site characterized by wind gusts, rain and high waves were curbing the pollution.
Furthermore, experts from the local maritime oil spill response body said that the condensate that went into the water is expected to evaporate soon. However, the fire is releasing toxic gases into the air and any inhalation or skin exposure would result in poisoning.
The ill-fated tanker, owned by Bright Shipping Ltd and managed by National Iranian Tanker Co. (NITC), is loaded with 136,000 tons of Iranian crude oil.
As informed, efforts to put out the fire continue to be underway for the fourth day since the collision between the tanker and a Hong Kong-flagged bulker CF Crystal. Nevertheless, the activities remain to be hampered by the fire and thick smoke billowing from the stricken vessel.
It is estimated that the fire could burn for a period ranging between two weeks to a month, Reuters reports citing an official from South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.
Concerns have been raised that due to the extent of damages the tanker might break up or sink resulting in a major oil spill.
Nevertheless, Iran’s Port and Maritime Organization (PMO) downplayed the concerns saying it doesn’t believe it would sink.
The body of one of the 32 missing crew members has been recovered and handed over to the civil affairs department for identification.
Search for the remaining mariners continues.
On the other hand, CF Crystal has berthed in Zhoushan where the maritime authorities will launch an investigation into the collision.
CF Crystal did not sustain major damage in the collision and its 21 crew members have been rescued and are reported to be safe.
World Maritime News Staff