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Japan sees little chance that the oil slick of the sunken tanker reaches its coast

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan sees little chance that the oil spill from an Iranian tanker that sank in the East China Sea on Sunday will reach its shores, an official with the Ministry of Environment said on Tuesday. country.

The big oil tanker Sanchi (IMO: 9356608) sank in the worst oil disaster in decades and produced a big oil slick, Chinese media and Japanese authorities said on Monday, as concerns grew about the damage to the ecosystem Marine.

It is believed that the crew of the ship of 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis perished in the incident.

"Oil spills in general can have a large environmental impact if they reach the coast, but we believe that there is little chance of that happening on the Japanese coast for now," said the official who helps monitor the marine environment for the ministry. Reuters by phone. He refused to be named as he was not authorized to speak with the media.

The tanker had been adrift and on fire after crashing into freighter CF Crystal (IMO: 9497050) on January 6. Strong winds drove it away from the Chinese coast, where the incident occurred, and in the exclusive economic zone of Japan (EEZ)

The ship, which had been transporting 136,000 tons, almost 1 million barrels, of condensate, an ultralight crude oil and highly flammable, it sank after several explosions that weakened the hull.

"From the area where the tanker sank, a sea current is heading north, which limits the chances of the oil slick reaching the Japanese coast," said the official of the Ministry of Environment.

The Coast Guard of Japan said on Monday that the oil had spread over an area of ​​13 km (8.1 miles) in length and 11 km (6.8 miles) in width, although it said that the tide was shrinking as the patrol boats fought to contain it.

A spokesman for the Japan Coast Guard added on Tuesday that it was carefully monitoring the oil slick in case weather conditions changed the direction of the spill.

Experts fear that the sinking of the Sanchi will likely expel the remaining condensate and fuel from the tank bunker, or the heavy fuel that feeds the engines of a ship, contaminating the surrounding waters.

Bunker fuel is the dirtiest type of oil, extremely toxic when spilled, although less explosive than condensate.

The Coast Guard spokesman said he had not identified what type of oil contained the stain.

Infographics: tanker fire burns bright interactive images – tmsnrt.rs/2DmrPvL

Graph: Burning Iranian tanker moves towards Japan – tmsnrt.rs/2DqMwH7

Yuka Obayashi's information; Joseph Radford edition

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