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Bid to Curb Sea Pollution

Authorities hope to better protect the sea environment from oil spills by establishing a national oil-pollution compensation fund as well as upgrading inspection of ship production, maritime officials said yesterday.

Liu Gongchen, the executive director general of the China Maritime Safety Administration, told a press conference for the 2007 Shanghai International Maritime Forum that the domestic sea environment is facing increasing risk of pollution from accidental oil-spill accidents, given the ever-booming shipping transport industry around Chinese ports.

The two-day forum will open this morning at the Grand Hyatt Shanghai, with Chinese officials and experts from the United States, Britain, Spain, South Korea and the 10 ASEAN member countries attending.

The CMSA said that up to 431 million tons of oil products were transported along the Chinese coasts last year, including 187 million tons of crude oil.

The soaring number of oil-container ships, especially the rapid growth in large-capacity oil vessels, in recent years is making cruise on the already-busy Chinese maritime waterways even more challenging because of concerns over oil spills, maritime officials said.

Liu revealed that the State Council is amending a law to reinforce measures in preventing marine oil pollution. An important aspect included in the law is to set up rules for a future Chinese Oil Pollution Compensation Fund.

Domestic oil carriers would be required to pay to the fund based on the volume of their oil shipment. The fund will be used to pay for companies and workers who are hired for cleaning the oil spills from sea as well as covering other expenses to relieve sea pollution in shipping accidents.

Li Qingping, a CMSA deputy director, said a crackdown on substandard middle and small-size oil container ships had started two years ago, and the situation had since improved considerably.

(Shanghai Daily November 7, 2007)

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