Daily Archives: July 14, 2011

Obligation to Notify, Oil Spills and China

 China National Offshore Oil Corporation, which was recently accused of covering up a huge spill, is cleaning up another slick after a breakdown at a rig off the northeast coast, officials said Tuesday.The oil giant is trying to contain the spill covering an area measuring one square kilometre (0.4 square miles) in Bohai Bay, the State Oceanic Administration said — the third accident to hit CNOOC in recent weeks.A small amount of oil leaked into the water after the Suizhong 36-1 field central control system broke down on Tuesday, it added.  In a statement, CNOOC said the leak was “minor”, adding the remaining scattered oil sheen was expected to be cleaned up within the day.

CNOOC has been slammed by state media and green groups over a massive spill in the same area which was detected on June 4 but was only made public nearly a month later.  CNOOC said last week the 840-square-kilometre slick was “basically under control” while ConocoPhillips told reporters the leaks had been plugged.But the oceanic administration said oil was still seeping into the sea at the weekend and ConocoPhillips China has been ordered to find and seal the leaking sources “as soon as possible”, Chinese media reported Tuesday.

The June spill has caused alarm in neighbouring South Korea, which called on Beijing to swiftly provide information on the leaking rig.  “I think it would be conscientious of China to provide immediate information on the matter and possible outcomes to neighbouring nations,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Byung-jae told reporters.

In a separate incident, a CNOOC refinery in the southern province of Guangdong caught fire early Monday but there were no casualties, the company said, adding the cause of the blaze was still under investigation.The refinery is located about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the Daya Bay nuclear power plant, the official Xinhua news agency said.

China’s CNOOC cleaning up second oil spill, Agence France Presse, July 12, 2011

Revelant international treaties: The Action Plan for the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Northwest Pacific Region (NOWPAP) (1994). http://www.nowpap.org/

The duty to inform and notify other states in case of an imminent environmental disaster is a cardinal principle of internationl environmental law.  More http://www.alphabetics.info/international/2007/07/03/polluting-secrecy-where-is-the-duty-to-notify/


“NOWPAP only covers waters 33-52 degrees northern latitude and 121-143 degrees eastern longitude, and does not include Chinese coastal waters at 117-120 degrees eastern longitude like Bohai Bay. “It seems China doesn’t want this area covered by NOWPAP because there are many sensitive military facilities there,” a government official said.
Although four more oil spills occurred in Bohai Bay alone since 2009, the Chinese government and state-run oil companies have only revealed minimum information when further cover-up was impossible and kept everybody in the dark. ”

Why China Kept Seoul in the Dark Over Oil Spill , The Chosun Ilbo , July 13, 2011