Au­thor­ity sued over drilling in Bo­hai Bay

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By WANG QIAN wangqian@chi­

The All-China En­vi­ron­ment Fed­er­a­tion, a na­tion­wide NGO on en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues, has stepped up its fight against marine pol­lu­tion with a law­suit against the State Oceanic Ad­min­is­tra­tion for “il­le­gally” al­low­ing a US oil com­pany to restart drilling in Fe­bru­ary af­ter a se­vere spill in Bo­hai Bay in 2011.

“The rea­son we filed the suit is to su­per­vise the State Oceanic Ad­min­is­tra­tion to strictly fol­low the law in deal­ing with ma­jor marine pol­lu­tion events,” Ma Yong, the fed­er­a­tion’s di­rec­tor of su­per­vi­sion and lit­i­ga­tion, said on Tues­day.

“The in­for­ma­tion re­leased to the pub­lic by the ad­min­is­tra­tion didn’t con­tain en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ments and no pub­lic hear­ing was held, which is re­quired by law af­ter any se­vere en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion event.” He said marine pol­lu­tion is a ma­jor fo­cus of the fed­er­a­tion’s work.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion de­clined to comment on the law­suit.

Bei­jing No 1 In­ter­me­di­ate Peo­ple’s Court con­firmed re­ceiv­ing the law­suit, but re­fused to dis­close fur­ther de­tails. The court must de­cide whether to ac­cept the case within seven work­ing days.

It is the lat­est law­suit re­lated to the oil spill in the Bo­hai Bay in June 2011. So far, no case has been ac­cepted by the courts.

In June 2011, the Penglai 19- 3 Oil­field ex­pe­ri­enced two un­re­lated leaks, with ini­tial es­ti­mates in­di­cat­ing about 115 cu­bic me­ters of oil was re­leased into the sea and 416 cu m of min­eral oil mud was re­leased onto the seabed, ac­cord­ing to op­er­a­tors Cono­coPhillips. The US com­pany owns a 49 per­cent stake in the field, while China National Off­shore Oil Cor­po­ra­tion has 51 per­cent.

A State Oceanic Ad­min­is­tra­tion re­port in Novem­ber said the leaks pol­luted an area of about 6,200 square kilo­me­ters — nearly nine times the size of Sin­ga­pore.

Cono­coPhillips was or­dered to halt pro­duc­tion in Septem­ber 2011.

The two com­pa­nies pre­vi­ously agreed to pay 1.68 bil­lion yuan ($27 mil­lion) in com­pen­sa­tion to those af­fected by the spill.

Xia Jun, a Bei­jing lawyer, said there is lit­tle hope that the court will ac­cept the fed­er­a­tion’s suit, but at least the ac­tion showed a chan­nel for pur­su­ing the pub­lic in­ter­est.

A draft amend­ment to Civil Pro­ce­dure Law be­ing con­sid­ered by the au­thor­i­ties will, if ap­proved, en­ti­tle the fed­er­a­tion to file class ac­tions in the pub­lic in­ter­est, es­pe­cially in cases of en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion or un­safe food.

Yang Jizhen, a seafood farmer in He­bei prov­ince’s Laot­ing county, near the spill area, said his fam­ily re­ceived 600,000 yuan as com­pen­sa­tion for his eco­nomic losses.

For Yang, that was far from enough, but he said, “Al­though the com­pen­sa­tion is about half of our yearly out­put, at least we got some­thing.”

What he worries about more is this year’s har­vest. All the shells he cul­ti­vated this year grew slowly, to only about half their nor­mal size. He said he is afraid the wa­ter qual­ity has not im­proved since the oil spill.

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