SEOUL/SINGAPORE – Teams of workers, aided by ships and aircraft, are completing the sea cleanup of 164,000 liters of oil that leaked off South Korea’s southern coast, after a pipeline run by GS Caltex Corp. cracked over the weekend. A Reuters report said the cleanup of shore areas will take up to two weeks.
The crack and subsequent leak occurred on Friday at a quay off Yeosu, more than 300 km (185 mi) south of Seoul, while the crude carrierWu Yi San was preparing to berth and offload crude.
Oil remaining in the pipeline leaked, but none spilled from the tanker, which did not hit refinery production at GS Caltex, according to the refiner and the Korea coast guard. A cleanup of the seashore is expected to take one or two weeks.
The tanker was suspected of approaching the quay at a higher than recommended speed, but the exact cause of the accident is under investigation. Crude oil, naphtha, and other oil compounds leaked from three cracked pipelines at the quay.
The tanker is operated and managed by Singapore’s Ocean Tankers, which said the vessel was under the control of two port pilots and assisted by five harbor tugs when it struck the shore jetty and pipeline.
Surveyors from the ship safety classification society ABS and the ship’s insurer, the North of England P&I Association, are helping the investigation and assessing damage to the ship, said Ng Kwang Chiau, senior vice president at Ocean Tankers’ fleet management division. He said the ship’s voyage data recorder, or “black box,” would be analyzed as part of the investigation.
There were no injuries to the crew. The front of the ship sustained minor damage, but the vessel was safely anchored. Ng told Reuters that the ship was chartered to Shell, and that talks would take place with the oil major about unloading options.