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Jul-21-2010 09:50printcomments

Maritime Traffic Control Ban Lifted as Oil Spill Cleanup Continues in East China

40 monitoring stations are watching over a 1,500-square-kilometer area off the Chinese coast.

China Oil Spill July 19, 2010
Photo taken on July 19, 2010 shows the polluted sea area affected by oil leakage in Dalian, a coastal city in northeast China's Liaoning Province. Over 500 fishing boats Monday joined a massive oil spill clean-up operation underway off the coast of Dalian City, three days after pipelines exploded near the city's oil reserve base, one of China's largest. (Xinhua/Li Gang)

(DALIAN, China Xinhua) - Authorities lifted a partial ban on maritime traffic at a major northeast China port Tuesday, four days after explosions hit crude oil pipelines here and caused a lingering oil spill.

The Maritime Affairs Administration of Liaoning Province reported that the ports in Dalian City have fully re-opened to traffic as of 5:00 p.m. Tuesday as waterways affected by the oil slick have been basically cleared for the resumption of shipping.

Two crude pipelines exploded last Friday evening in Xingang Port in northeast China's Dalian City. The blasts caused an oil slick, resulting in authorities controlling maritime traffic during the cleanup.

Authorities said they assisted about 420 vessels in using Dalian's ports during the past four days under the traffic control.

But local officials said oil shipments from Dalian, which lies at the heart of northeast China's crude oil production base and is the country's vital oil trans-shipment destination, would not be immediately restored.

Local petroleum companies' tankers have reduced oil shipments from Dalian to southern Chinese provinces while refineries roll back operations following the blasts and await the cleanup to be completed.

Dalian officials Tuesday said they have mobilized forty special oil-skimming vessels and about 800 fishing boats to mop up the oil slick along Dalian's coast to prevent the contamination of international waters.

"Our priority is to collect the majority of the spilled oil within five days to reduce the possibility of contaminating international waters," Dai Yulin, vice mayor of Dalian City, Liaoning Province, told Xinhua Tuesday.

Further, he said maritime agencies have set up 40 monitoring stations to watch over a 1,500-square-kilometer area off the city's coast.

More than one thousand boats joined the ocean cleanup, which started last Saturday. But many of the 800 fishing boats that had assisted in the work were halted Tuesday due to heavy rains and strong winds.

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