Oil at Japan Shores is Likely from Sunken Tanker Sanchi: Japan Coast Guard

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Oil spill from a stricken Iranian tanker Sanchi in the East China Sea, on January 16, 2018 (Image Courtesy: Reuters)

Oily matter that reached two islands in southern Japan is highly likely to come from a sunken Iranian tanker, given its similarity to oil floating near the tanker and a lack of other oil spills in the area, the Japan Coast Guard said on Thursday.

The Sanchi tanker sank in the East China Sea last month in the world’s worst such disaster in decades, and Japan has been checking the impact on the environment and marine ecosystem. The coast guard said that seawater samples from 14 different locations in offshore southern Japan detected no oil pollution from the sunken tanker.

Comparisons of seawater samples taken before and after the tanker incident showed no change in oil content, it added.

Black clumps of oily matter first washed up on the shores of Takarajima island on Jan. 28 and other matter has since arrived at 21 other islands in southwestern Japan that are part of a chain of islands that includes Amami-Oshima and Okinawa, areas famous for pristine beaches and reef systems.

The Sanchi, which the Coast Guard said was carrying 111,000 tonnes, or about 810,000 barrels, of condensate – an ultra-light, highly flammable crude oil – sank after several explosions weakened the hull following the collision.

An oil slick continues to be seen near where the Sanchi sank. The slick is located about 315 km (197 miles) west of Amami-Oshima island and is about 700 meters long and 20 meters wide, though oil has been evaporating from the fringes, the Coast Guard said in a statement on Thursday.

Japanese and Chinese patrol boats have been searching for the missing crew in the area and sailing over the slick to try to dissipate the oil.

(Reference: CNBC, Reuters)

Sea News, February 23