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Oil from huge spill reaches Chinese coast: Xinhua
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) July 20, 2011

Oil from a huge spill off China's coast has been found ashore in two separate areas, state media reported on Wednesday, sparking calls for greater transparency about the disaster.

A 300-metre (985 feet) "belt" found on a bathing beach in northern Hebei province has been traced back to the oil field operated by China's state-run CNOOC and US firm ConocoPhillips, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Oil particles from the leak were also found on a four-kilometre (2.5-mile) stretch of beach in the northeastern province of Liaoning, Xinhua said.

The spill, which has polluted a sea area about six times the size of Singapore, was kept secret by authorities for several weeks before being made public this month, sparking suspicions of an official cover-up.

Greenpeace China campaigner Li Yan said the latest report indicates a wider coastal area could eventually be affected, and urged the government and oil companies to release more information to the public.

"The biggest problem now is that the public is not aware of the potential impact," she said.

"This is where the company and government need to take responsibility and release information as quickly and comprehensively as possible so that the public can be alerted."

State Oceanic Administration official Lin Fangzhong said oil was still leaking from the Penglai 19-3 oil field in Bohai Bay, but at the rate of just one litre a day, Xinhua reported.

The oceanic administration did not immediately respond to a request for further information from AFP.

Spokesmen for both companies told AFP they were looking into the reports of oil reaching shore but had no immediate comment.

State media have said previously the government was considering seeking compensation from ConocoPhillips over the spill and have warned of a long-term economic impact on communities that rely heavily on fishing and tourism.

China's oil industry has been repeatedly tarnished by spills along the country's northeastern coast, a major oil producing region.

Two pipelines exploded in July 2010 at an oil storage depot belonging to China National Petroleum Corporation, the country's largest oil producer triggering a spectacular blaze that burned for days.

Government estimates said about 1,500 tonnes of oil poured into the Yellow Sea but Greenpeace said the spill may have involved up to 60 times more than that.

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