Unheadlined is a new section of the MC Sun that provides a brief overview of stories that did not make the weekly headlines.
Fear of an environmental disaster rises as the Sanchi, a burning oil tanker located in the East China Sea, has continued to leak oil since Jan. 6 after colliding with a cargo ship.
Chinese officials of the tanker report that the boat is in critical condition and is in danger of exploding and sinking, leaving behind an oil spill.
Rescuers’ attempts to reach the tanker continually failed due to toxic clouds lingering around the scene. The body of one crew member of the Sanchi has been recovered, but the remaining 31 members are missing.
The Iranian-owned ship was on route from Iran to South Korea. It was carrying a cargo of oil when it collided with Hong-Kong registered freighter CF Crystal, carrying grain from the US.
The oil carried by the Sanchi is not ordinary black crude, however it is condensate, which is equivalent to an ultra-light version of crude oil. Condensate comes in a gas form and is highly toxic. When in low density, condensate is thought to be more explosive than regular crude oil. This particular form of oil is commonly used as jet fuel, petrol, diesel, and heat fuel.
The Sanchi was carrying about one billion barrels of condensate, which translates to approximately $60 million at current prices.
As of Jan. 9, it has been reported that about 1% of the condensate has been found on the surface of the water.
Japanese officials continue to search for the reason for the collision, as well as a way to prevent further damage.