As Bush made a move to protect the world’s largest marine sanctuary, on the other side of the world there is another surprise leader in the protection of the marine environment – China. China held its first international drill against oil spills with South Korea off the coast of Qingdao. Some 500 people, one helicopter, one fixed wing aircraft and 29 vessels were involved … none of them leaking anything, of course.
The Northwest Pacific region is at the highest risk of oil spills and a natural place for pollution prevention training. China gets some 400 oil tankers visiting each day carrying some 420 million tons of crude oil annually. In the past 24 years there have been 79 accidents involving oil spills of at least 50 tons of oil. Gosh, that’s about a year’s worth of crude oil wasted, no?
China lags in maritime firefighting capability and oil cleaning equipment. But, perhaps the Middle Kingdom is turning the corner. South Korea had the most serious oil spill in history last year when 15,000 tons of crude oil leaked into the sea near Hong Kong.