China and environmental observers said cleanup efforts on the country’s largest reported oil spill were progressing, but the environmental and economic damage was becoming clear. Now extending to 165 square miles (430 sq km) over the Yellow Sea, the cleanup was marred by the drowning of a worker whose body was found coated in crude oil. China National Petroleum Corporation said that the pipeline at Dalian that exploded and caused the oil spill had already resumed operations although the cause of the explosion that started the spill was still not clear. Greenpeace China released photos of local fishermen cleaning up oily sludge at Weitang Bay with shovels, and of an employee scooping up dead snails at Guotai Water Products Farm, about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) from the site of the explosion and spill. “Dalian’s seafood farming and tourism industries have taken critical hits,” Greenpeace China said in a statement. It estimated 10,000 shellfish farms have been contaminated. Fishing in the waters around Dalian has been banned until the end of August, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported. It remained unclear exactly how much oil has spilled, but state media has said no more is leaking into the sea.
China Central Television reported an estimated 1,500 tons of oil had ben spilled – roughly 400,000 gallons — compared with 94 million to 184 million gallons in the BP oil spill off the U.S. coast. The ecological harm from the spill could last a decade, Zhao Zhangyuan, a researcher with the China Environmental Science Research Institute, told the Shanghai Morning News earlier this week.