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Zainab Calcuttawala

Zainab Calcuttawala

Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…

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Oil Slick From Iranian Tanker Explosion Is Now The Size Of Paris

The Iranian tanker that sank in the East China Sea has caused an oil spill that is now the size of Paris, according to emerging reports.

The slick has grown to 39 square miles, doubling in size since Monday, figures from the Chinese State Oceanic Administration say.

Previously, national authorities said four separate slicks had formed in the water as a result of the crash, but the administration did not respond to requests for clarification.

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The Sanchi tanker burned for a full week on the sea before it exploded a final time and sank into the water. All 32 crew members – 30 Iranian and 2 Bangladeshi – are presumed dead. Iran’s Special Task Force spokesman Mohammad Rastad recently relayed testimony from rescued crew members from the CF-Crystal, who said that Sanchi’s crew likely died from the initial explosion or the subsequent release of toxic chemicals.

Sanchi had held a million barrels of light condensate oil, which is highly toxic and flammable, making it particularly dangerous to marine wildlife in the area as well. The ship collided with the CF Crystal freighter on January 7, after they both stopped transmitting their locations to global tracking systems.

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"The critical thing is to understand that when we put hydrocarbons into the oceans through events like this, it's going to affect a wide range of animals," Professor Jessica Meeuwig at the University of Western Australia, said.

The collision site is also considered to be one of China’s richest fishing areas. Cleanup teams are assessing the ecological impact of the disaster, which is the biggest one in decades in the area. Traces from the spill could reach as far as the western North American coast as the tanker sank several dozen kilometers from the Black Tide—a current that is as strong as the Gulf Stream and is connected to the North Pacific Current, which reaches east of British Columbia and then splits into two currents, one heading up to Alaska and the other down to California.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Joe on January 18 2018 said:
    The slick is 39 square miles and the Pacific Ocean is 62 million square miles. It’s condensate, not crude oil. Tragedy? Yes. Environmental Disaster? No.
  • Gary Novak on January 18 2018 said:
    The ships collided after they both stopped transmitting their locations. The obvious question is why they stopped. Who will ask it? Why would an Iranian tanker want to disappear?

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