China pipeline blast, port oil spill caused by 'catalyst'

Updated: 2010-07-20 14:41
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A pipeline explosion at a port in northeastern China which led to an oil spill covering more than 60 square kilometers (23 square miles) was caused after a "catalyst" was added to a crude-oil storage tank, the government said.

The error was made when an oil tanker was unloading at Dalian port on July 16, according to a statement on the Ministry of Transport's website, which didn't say what the substance was or who was responsible for the incident.

The oil spill may take about five days to clean up, Xu Guochen, secretary of the Dalian municipal government, told reporters yesterday. The oil terminal was closed and a PetroChina Co refinery was forced to draw on crude stockpiles, said a company official in Dalian, who couldn't be named because he isn't authorized to speak to the media.

More than 500 fishing vessels joined the clean-up operation off the coast of Dalian yesterday, according to the China Daily.

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About 260 tons of oil had been collected by 12 pm local time yesterday, according to a separate statement from the Ministry of Transport. About 1,500 tons of the fuel spilled into the Yellow Sea after the blasts on July 16, according to China National Radio.

The oil pipeline exploded late on July 16 near Dalian's Xingang harbor, causing a smaller pipeline nearby also operated by a unit of PetroChina to blow up, the Xinhua News Agency reported. The fire was extinguished the next day, 15 hours after the initial blast, Xinhua said.

PetroChina Chairman Jiang Jiemin is heading a team overseeing the energy company's response to the accident, according to a statement released by parent China National Petroleum Corp today.