Work to clean up the oil spill at the Penglai oilfield in Bohai Gulf is continuing despite China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and its partner ConocoPhillips China (COPC) claiming Wednesday that the clean-up was complete.
The Penglai field, where the 19-3 platform reportedly leaked oil for about a month, is 73 kilometers from Changdao county, Shangdong Province, the only island county in the bay.
About 10 ships were at work on the field collecting floating oil on Saturday, the Beijing News reported Sunday.
“We have been here for more than 10 days and will likely stay for a long time,” a seaman told the newspaper.
Marine experts warned that the oil spill meant seafood from the Bohai Sea would not be safe to eat for a year.
“No seafood from the Bohai Bay should be eaten for at least a year because marine animals will be choked to death by the oil and their eggs will be contaminated,” Zhao Zhangyuan, a researcher at Chinese Research of Environmental Sciences (CRES) in Beijing, told the Global Times Sunday.
“We are worried that we won’t get compensation and no one will buy our seafood,” a fisherman told the Beijing News.
Local fishermen have reported abnormal shellfish deaths recently, the Beijing News reported. Changdao Oceanic and Fishing Bureau has taken samples of oil in waters near Changdao for further analysis, according to the report. Calls by the Global Times to the bureau went unanswered Sunday.
However, results from tests conducted Saturday by the State Oceanic Administration’s (SOA) Qingdao-based North China Sea Branch showed that the oil in Changdao’s waters was unconnected to the Penglai oil spill, with the cause of the shellfish deaths unclear and hydrocarbon levels in the water not exceeding standard levels, according to a notice released on the SOA website on Saturday.
The SOA’s response to the oil spill has been unsatisfactory, said Zhao of the CRES.
“The administration should have told the public about the oil spill when it occurred. In addition, their explanation that the shellfish deaths in Changdao are not connected to the oil spill is not credible,” he said.
The oil leak affected 840 square kilometers of seawater, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Friday.
The spill will affect Laizhou Bay in the Bohai Gulf, an important coastal spawning area. The Bohai Gulf is enclosed by coastline and it takes dozens of years for polluted water there to become cleaner, Zhao said.
The SOA said COPC should take most of the responsibility for the oil spill and should pay a 200,000-yuan ($30,920) fine, Xinhua reported.
Wang Bin, vice director of the SOA’s oceanic protection department, said the oceanic authorities will ask COPC for ecological compensation, which will be a sum that is much higher than 200,000 yuan, Xinhua reported.
“200,000 yuan is a joke. The maximum compensation is 200 million yuan according to the regulations of Shandong Province,” Wang Shicheng, a former director of Shandong’s Provincial Oceanic and Fishing Department, told the Beijing-based China Time Saturday.
The central government could allow Shandong to ask for ecological compensation from the parties responsible for the oil spill, Wang added.