A revised rule that forces shipping companies to shoulder the cost of cleaning up pollution from maritime accidents is likely to take effect next year or sooner. According to a senior official with China Maritime Safety Administration yesterday, the law includes oil spills in Chinese waters.
Liu Gongcheng is executive director of China MSA.
He said the revised regulation must be approved by the State Council, and will apply to companies such as Sinopec, PetroChina and the China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC). These companies will be required to contribute to a special compensation and clean-up fund.
Liu spoke at the 2007 Shanghai International Maritime Forum, which kicked off yesterday, and said the fund will boost the country's emergency response capabilities in case of maritime pollution disasters.
The official declined to name figures as to how big the fund could be.
The rules also include plans to require all ship in its seawaters to purchase insurance.
The insurance requirement would be one way for China to handle potential oil spill pollution, as the ocean environment strains under the pressure of increased shipping traffic.
Figures showed more than 90 percent of China's oil imports - 145 million tons last year - is transported by sea. Some 163,000 tankers of all sizes sailed into and out of China's ports last year, an average of 446 every day.
"The size of oil tankers is also getting bigger, up to 300,000 tons, which has to be added to the risk," Liu said. "If only 1 percent of the oil is spilled, we will be confronted with a catastrophe."
Oil spills can wreak havoc on sea life, fishing and tourism. They cost millions of yuan to clean up and even more in compensation and damages, he said.
In the past year, throughout the world there were several oil spills in domestic seawaters involving 500 to 600 tons of oil, but they didn't cause serious pollution due to adequate emergency response, Liu said.
Losses caused by ships using international waters can be covered by insurance in accordance with international conventions.
However, China lacks a mechanism to cover costs many small- and medium-sized ship owners cannot afford.
1.The rule is likely to go into effect when?
2.What percentage of China’s imports are transported by sea?
3.China imported how many tons last year?
4.Last year, oil spills in domestic waters involved how much oil?
3.145 million tons.
4.500 to 600 tons.
（英语点津 Celene 编辑）
About the broadcaster:
Jonathan Stewart is a media and journalism expert from the United States with four years of experience as a writer and instructor. He accepted a foreign expert position with chinadaily.com.cn in June 2007 following the completion of his Master of Arts degree in International Relations and Comparative Politics.