The Panama-registered oil tanker is seen on fire in waters about 160 sea miles east of the Yangtze River's estuary, Jan. 7, 2018. (Xinhua)
A Chinese marine surveillance plane has discovered a small area of suspected oil spill near the site of a collision in the East China Sea, according to sources with the State Oceanic Administration (SOA).
The collision, between a Panama-registered oil tanker and a Hong Kong-registered bulk freighter, occurred around 8 p.m. Saturday in waters about 160 sea miles east of the Yangtze River estuary.
Carrying 136,000 tonnes of highly volatile condensate, or natural gasoline, the 274-meter oil tanker SANCHI was still burning as of Wednesday afternoon. Chinese authorities are searching for its missing crew members.
Based on the ongoing hydrology and meteorological conditions, the accident will not affect coastal water at the moment, said Zhou Qing, researcher with an SOA monitoring center.
However, the condensate still poses a threat to the maritime atmosphere as it may contain a relatively high level of sulfide, said Yao Ziwei, another research fellow with the SOA.
Potential fuel leaks could also harm the environment, according to Zhou, who called for closer monitoring of the situation.