Sunken Tanker – Worst Oil Ship Disaster

The Iranian tanker sank in the East China Sea has generated a large oil slick, making it the worst oil ship disaster since 1991!  On Jan. 6th, the tanker, Sanchi crushed into the freighter, CF Crystal and sank on Jan. 14th.  Strong winds pushed it into Japan’s economic zone.  Rescue efforts failed and the 32 crew members on board vanished.

The explosion and sinking occurred in the East China Sea which harvests seabeds for fish spawning and an abundant marine ecosystem that includes whales, porpoises and seabirds.  Greenpeace stated that this sea area is a wintering ground for such fish as hairtail, yellow croaker, chub mackerel and blue crab.  It is also a migratory pathway of many mammals like the humpback, right and gray whales.  There is much concern that the sinking will likely discharge the tanker’s bunker fuel, contaminating the surrounding waters and marine eco-life.

China, along with Japan and South Korea coordinated rescue and clean-up efforts at the accident site and have successfully cleaned 225 square nautical miles.  Plans are underway to clean the residual oil under water, assisted by robots.  Ships, planes and remote satellite sensing equipment were used to monitor the sea surface.  The area of the oil slick zone has successfully shrunk from 328 to 30 square kilometers and fishermen are now able to enter the sea with a radius of 30 nautical miles around the sinking site.