SHIJIAZHUANG - Fishermen in north China's Hebei province are preparing to sue a US-based oil company, as they believe recent oil spills in a nearby bay are to blame for the deaths of large numbers of scallops.
Fishermen from the province's city of Tangshan said they believe that the scallops they were raising along the shores were poisoned by contamination from oil spills in the Penglai 19-3 oilfield located in the Bohai Bay.
The oilfield is jointly operated by a Chinese subsidiary of the US-based oil company ConocoPhillips and its partner, the China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC).
The North Sea branch of the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) announced on August 3 that the bay had been contaminated with fuel oil.
Economic losses of the fishermen are believed to be between 150 and 170 million yuan ($23.5 to 26.6 million), as more than half of the scallops the fishermen raised have died, according to Yang Jizhen, president of the Laoting County Fishery Association.
"Each family (of fishermen) has been affected to a different extent. A more accurate figure will be calculated by November," Yang said.
Local authorities have not offered an explanation for the loss of the scallops, leading the fisherman to hire lawyers to sue ConocoPhillips, Yang said.
Three million yuan ($469,300) has been raised by the 153 families of fishermen who are planning to sue the company, according to Yang. The money will be used to cover their legal fees.