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Spill after ship collision pollutes river
By Bao Xinyan (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-17 00:57

The Maritime Supervision Administration (MSA) of Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu Province, is sparing no efforts to collect cyclohexanone, a kind of poisonous and flammable chemical which spilled into the Yangtze River over the past three days.

The chemical pollution was caused by a collision involving two oil tankers Sunday afternoon.

According to an MSA official who declined to be named, by 6 pm Tuesday evening, they had successfully cleaned up almost all of the spill.

It was reported by the local newspapers that about 80 tons of cyclohexanone had spilled into the water.

"The actual amount of the chemical poured into the river is much less than that,'' the official said. "But we cannot provide an accurate figure now.''

The staff members of the Nanjing MSA took special measures to enclose the water area in which there was cyclohexanone, and used more than one ton of oil absorption material to absorb the chemical.

"Since cyclohexanone does not really dissolve in water, we can collect it this way,'' explained the official.

He claimed that cyclohexanone is a chemical with a low pollution toxicity, therefore it should not impair the quality of water supply much in the city.

However, water supply companies in the city said they would still pay close attention to the accident and its effects.

Witnesses said the oil tanker named Chicheng was veering around in the area near a dock on the river, while another oil tanker named Changrun was sailing out of the dock. They collided around 2 pm on Sunday afternoon.

A big hole had opened on the starboard side of Changrun, which was carrying 450 tons of cyclohexanone, and the chemical began to leak into the river.

At the time, a foul smell spread over the surface of the water, which caused chaos among the crew.

Police, firefighters and staff from the Nanjing MSA reportedly rushed to the accident spot within a few minutes. They first evacuated the crew and residents living nearby, and then moved the oil tanker to the river bank and at the same time took measures to transfer the chemical to another ship as quickly as possible.

The official said that some MSA staff members jumped into the water and in a rush, even used bed quilts to clog the hole.

Fortunately no one was injured in the accident, according to the police office of Xiaguan, a district of Nanjing.

"All the rescue work was finished around four on Sunday,'' the official said. "The remaining work was just to clean the polluted water.''

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