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China struggles to contain oil spill

The hand of a worker involved in the clean-up of the Dalian oil spill is seen at Nanhaitun in Dalian, Liaoning province.
The hand of a worker involved in the clean-up of the Dalian oil spill is seen at Nanhaitun in Dalian, Liaoning province. Reuters

Chinese authorities struggled Thursday to contain an oil spill near the country's northeast port city of Dalian. 

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The government has mobilised hundreds of fishing boats and other vessels to clean up the spreading spill amid dire warnings of long-term environmental impacts.

Nevertheless, Greenpeace said many people thrown into the effort were reduced to using their bare hands.

The spill happened last Friday after two pipelines exploded at an oil storage depot, triggering a blaze that burned throughout the weekend.

Officials said that about 1,500 tonnes of oil spilled into the Yellow Sea off Liaoning province.

The government estimated Monday that the slick had affected 435 square kilometres of the Yellow Sea. By Wednesday the estimate had increased to 946 square kilometres, with 90 kilometres of coastline spoiled.

Authorities have expressed confidence in corralling the spill and have repeatedly pointed out the reported volume of oil miniscule compared to the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

But Zhao Zhangyuan, a researcher with the China Environmental Science Research Institute, told the Shanghai Morning Post the impact on marine life and on humans - as the pollution enters the food chain - could last ten years.
 

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