Oil spill almost cleaned up, says China

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 August, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 August, 1995, 12:00am

A HUGE oil slick at Huangpu port near Guangzhou has almost been cleared up, Chinese authorities have told Hong Kong.

A Government Flying Service helicopter found no sign of the oil when it flew a reconnaissance flight to the territory's western boundary yesterday morning.

And authorities could find no trace at Shekou port near the mouth of the estuary, said senior marine officer for port operations Steven Lam Wai-ming.

'Guangzhou said most oil had been removed,' Mr Lam said. Ships' masters had also reported no sign of oil in the river.

But he said the Marine Department would continue to monitor the situation. It could request a helicopter flight at short notice.

The Chinese had said nothing about their earlier inquiry to find out whether the Tsing Yi chemical treatment centre could take the oil for treatment, Mr Lam said.

The spill happened on Sunday when the Vanuatu-registered Tanja Jacob tanker crashed into the dock as it was trying to berth at Huangpu harbour, on the Pearl River.

The slick had been reported as being up to 10 kilometres long and comprising 100 tonnes to 200 tonnes of oil, although Mr Lam said the Guangzhou Port Authority would not say exactly how much was present.

The Chinese had requested information on Monday on what oil removal equipment was available from Hong Kong but had not asked to use it since, he said.

But Friends of the Earth campaigner Lisa Hopkinson expressed doubts about whether all the oil had been removed, fearing that some might have sunk and could continue to travel down the river.

Parts of the oil could react with sunlight to produce toxic soluble chemicals in the sea which would not break down naturally, a report said.

Mr Lam said that since the oil was 90 kilometres from Hong Kong, he was confident it would not affect the territory.