Greenpeace: Sanchi Oil Spill Magnitude Impossible to Estimate

The oil from the sunken Iranian tanker Sanchi may now cover an area of 332 square kilometers, according to China’s State Oceanic Administration, which is much larger than previously reported.

“This is an evolving situation and accurate information about the amounts of oil spilled already and likely to be spilled in the future is not available. It remains almost impossible to estimate the magnitude of the spill and what the potential environmental impacts might subsequently be,” Paul Johnston, Head of Greenpeace International’s Science Unit, said.

“The authorities must ensure there is continued oversight of the spill and that a thorough and systematic surveillance monitoring programme is put in place to assess its ecological significance.”

Chinese authorities continue to monitor the site on daily basis and collect water samples.

In order to contain the spreading oil spill from the sunken Iranian tanker, the Chinese authorities are reviewing a possibility of salvaging the wreck.

Salvaging of the wreck has been identified as the most effective way of dealing with the oil spill and would enable the authorities to search the vessel for bodies of the missing seafarers.

Sanchi was carrying 32 crew members, 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshi nationals, when it collided with Hong Kong-flagged CF Crystal and burst into flames on January 6.

Three bodies have been recovered from the vessel and are yet to be identified, while the hope of finding any survivors has been ruled out.

The Chinese Ministry of Transport said in its latest update that in line with the IMO rules, Iran, Panama, China and Hong Kong signed an agreement on January 25 on the joint investigation of the collision between Sanchi and CF Crystal.

As informed, a joint investigation team will be set up to determine the facts that caused the incident.

As part of an ongoing investigation, the crew of the Hong Kong-flagged bulker has been questioned and the vessel was inspected as well, Iranian Port and Maritime Organization (PMO) said.

Work on decrypting the black boxes of both vessels is underway as well and may last up to three months.

The Sanchi was carrying 136,000 tonnes of highly-toxic natural gas condensate from Iran when it collided with CF Crystal on January 6.

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