Stringent measures to protect Bohai Bay

Updated: 2011-12-28 07:57

By Wang Qian (China Daily)

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BEIJING - China will take strict measures in 2012 to protect the environment in Bohai Bay, especially in regard to the supervision of offshore petrochemical projects around the bay.

Liu Cigui, director of the State Oceanic Administration (SOA), said the administration will cooperate with Liaoning, Hebei and Shandong provinces and Tianjin municipality, which surround the bay, to enhance management of offshore oil platforms and waste discharges.

Liu, speaking at the SOA's annual conference on Monday, also said a standard will be drafted that minimizes pollutant discharge into the bay to protect its fragile environment.

Besides the bay area, regular patrols will be carried out around offshore petrochemical projects in all of China's marine areas, preventing and punishing illegal production activities, he added.

The speech was made after oil spills from wells operated by US energy giant ConocoPhillips in Bohai Bay.

The oil spills in June released more than 720 barrels of crude oil and 2,610 barrels of oily mud into the bay, together polluting 6,200 square kilometers of water, according to SOA estimates. The agency concluded in November that the incidents resulted mainly from negligence.

China's marine environment is worsening, and the conflicts between economic development and marine environmental protection will continue to be tense, Liu said.

Stringent measures to protect Bohai Bay 

The leaks have raised public concerns and brought the bay's environmental protection to the top of the SOA's agenda.

Liu said China will learn from foreign experiences in management to enhance the country's ability in controlling the risks in offshore oil exploration and emergency response.

"We are speeding up the establishment of a marine environment damage assessment system and regulating the legal process in marine environmental pollution cases," he said.

Sun Baocun, marine professor from Tianjin University, applauded the "delayed" protection measures for Bohai Bay's environment. Sun, also a deputy to the National People's Congress, has proposed a specific law on the bay's management to protect the fragile biosystem.

Sun warned that China's offshore development is happening too quickly, and it ignores the marine capacity for human activities, especially offshore oil and gas exploration land reclamation from the sea.

With the marine economy becoming another engine for the country's economy in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), coastal provinces and municipalities are going full speed in their offshore development plans.