Marine stations to go on bay-watch duty
Updated: 2012-10-21 23:41
By WANG QIAN (China Daily)
Three marine monitoring stations will be established in Bohai Bay, in a major anti-pollution project following recent oil spills, an official said.
The stations, the first will be built next year, will be sited along coastal areas in Tianjin, said Zhang Qiufeng, director of the Tianjin Marine Environmental Monitoring Center at the State Oceanic Administration.
"The new stations will monitor the bay collecting data daily on water temperature, pollution and salt content," Zhang said.
The stations will greatly improve forecasts and help coordinate emergency response measures, such as for an oil spill, Zhang said.
Tianjin currently has only one marine environment monitoring station, in Tanggu at the mouth of the Haihe River, but nearby development means that its ability to monitor the bay area has been diminished.
After a recent series of oil spills from offshore drilling platforms, Zhang said measures are urgently needed to protect Bohai Bay.
The bay once accounted for 40 percent of the country's fishing output, according to the State Oceanic Administration.
The Tianjin Marine Environmental Quality Bulletin said last year that coastal water near Tianjin does not meet standards for marine life or safe human use.
Along parts of the shoreline, including Jinzhou Bay, zinc levels have been detected 2,000 times the recommended safety limits, while lead readings were 300 percent above acceptable levels, it said.
Excessive factory discharge and land reclamation projects were the main reasons for the pollution, it said.
With significant oil and gas reserves in the bay, Tianjin became a key pilot area for economic development in 2006, following the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in Guangdong province and the Shanghai Pudong New Area.
Of the 39 offshore construction projects launched nationwide in August, 20 are located in Bohai Bay, according to the State Oceanic Administration.
The bay and the Yellow Sea are home to 128 of the 181 offshore drilling platforms.
The single station was clearly not enough to monitor the situation, Zhang said.
Land reclamation endangered vast swathes of wetlands and tidal flats, which had once served as nature's filters, said Sun Baocun, a professor of marine affairs at Tianjin University.
Large reclamation projects and booming offshore oil and gas exploration were devastating the bay environment, he said.
An oil spill at the Penglai 19-3 field in June last year polluted more than 5,500 square kilometers of the bay as more than 700 barrels of oil leaked into the sea, according to ConocoPhillips China, the field's operator.
Economic losses caused by marine accidents surged from 300 million yuan ($47 million) on average annually in the 1980s to an annual average of more than 17 billion yuan between 2005 and 2010, according to the State Oceanic Administration.
Senior officials from the administration have warned that the country's marine environment is increasingly endangered.
Authorities in Liaoning, Hebei, Shandong and Tianjin, the bay's hinterland, have drawn up a marine ecological protection zone in which human activity is strictly controlled.
The State Oceanic Administration is also setting up an environmental risk assessment of offshore human activity.