SHANGHAI – Environmental organization Greenpeace said on Wednesday that it is impossible to estimate the magnitude of the oil spill from the tanker Sanchi and its possible environmental impacts, given the lack of precise information.
The latest data from the Chinese government said there has been a reduction in the extent of the oil slicks.
“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,” said Paul Johnston, head of Greenpeace International’s Science Unit.
Despite the Chinese government’s almost daily short reports about the cleaning operations and the extent of the spill, it has not yet offered any official data on possible environmental damage.
“The authorities must ensure there is continued oversight of the spill and that a thorough and systematic surveillance monitoring program is put in place to assess its ecological significance,” Johnston said.
The tanker, which collided with a freighter on Jan. 6, and sank on Jan. 8, continues to leak hydrocarbons into the sea, according to experts.
The latest numbers from China’s State Oceanic Administration on Tuesday said the slicks cover a reduced area of 93 square kilometers (36 square miles), with 36 square kilometers having a high concentration of hydrocarbons.
The extent of the oil slicks has varied considerably, as they totaled 260 square kilometers on Friday, reduced to 199 square kilometers on Saturday and then increased to 332 square kilometers on Sunday.
The Ministry of Transport said on Tuesday night that an area of 107.2 square miles had been cleaned.
Sanchi sunk some 530 kilometers (329 miles) to the southeast of Shanghai following an explosion, after it had been burning and drifting for eight days following its collision with the freighter CF Crystal.
The tanker was carrying 136,000 tons of refined petroleum condensate at the time of the accident and all 32 of its sailors died, with only three bodies recovered so far.