Yellow River oil spill

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Yellow River oil spill
Location Weinan, Shaanxi, China
Coordinates 34°36′42″N 110°17′20″E / 34.6117°N 110.289°E / 34.6117; 110.289Coordinates: 34°36′42″N 110°17′20″E / 34.6117°N 110.289°E / 34.6117; 110.289
Date 30 December 2009
Cause Rupture of the Lanzhou-Zhengzhou oil pipeline
Operator China National Petroleum Corporation
Spill characteristics
Volume 150,000 l (40,000 US gal)
Shoreline impacted > 100 km

The Yellow River oil spill was an oil spill in the Yellow River in Shaanxi, China which took place due to the rupturing of a segment of Lanzhou-Zhengzhou oil pipeline on December 30, 2009. Approximately 150,000 l (40,000 US gal) of diesel oil flowed down the Wei River before finally reaching the Yellow River, the source of drinking water for millions of people, on January 4, 2010.[1][2]


The Lanzhou-Zhengzhou oil pipeline project was approved in 2007 and opened for operation in March 2009. It is a part of the 2,070 km (1,290 mi)-long Lanzhou-Zhengzhou-Changsha pipeline with a capacity of transporting 15 million tons of oil per year.[3] According to China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), the rupture took place on December 30, 2009 due to an accident near Weinan where construction was underway by third-party workers.[2] However, the incident was not publicized until January 3, 2010.[4] The deputy director of the Yellow River Water Resources Commission called for an investigation into the accident, refuting CNPC's claim that the accident was caused by third-party construction workers.[5]

Spill control efforts[edit]

About 150,000 litres of diesel had already leaked out before the pipeline was closed by CNPC. According to Pacific Environment China's co-director Wen Bo, 700 workers were quickly mobilized by the government to control the spill as soon as its occurrence became known.[2] They dug diversion channels and built floating dams to stop the pollutant from advancing further downstream. Solidifying chemicals were also used to remove the fuel from the stream.[6] Despite these efforts, officials found traces of diesel in the Yellow River on January 4, 2010, 200 km upstream of Zhengzhou.[1] No pollution was detected downstream of Sanmenxia, although the Sanmenxia reservoir was found to contain traces of toxic diesel.[7] Sanmenxia Dam and its six hydroelectric generators were shut down to prevent the flow of pollutant further downstream.[8] On 5 January, Zhang Xun, an official of the Ministry of Environmental Protection confirmed that the spill had been contained in the Sanmenxia reservoir and was no longer a threat to the river water downstream.[9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "China water warning as oil spill hits Yellow River". BBC News. 4 January 2010. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c Jessie Jiang (4 January 2010). "After Oil Spill, China's Polluted Rivers in Spotlight". Time. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  3. ^ "China Lanzhou-Zhengzhou oil pipeline in operation". Reuters. March 31, 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  4. ^ Watts, Jonathan (4 January 2010). "Chinese environment officials fail to stop oil slick from polluting Yellow river". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  5. ^ "Spill spread may affect drinking water supply". Xinhua News. 5 January 2010. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  6. ^ "Hundreds battle river fuel spill". Press Association. 3 January 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  7. ^ Browne, Andrew (4 January 2010). "Diesel Spill Contaminates Yellow River". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  8. ^ The Associated Press (January 5, 2010). "China Shuts Dam Generators Following Diesel Spill". ABC News. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  9. ^ "China official says diesel spill 'basically contained' from moving downstream on Yellow River". The Canadian Press. 5 January 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2010. 
  10. ^ Wang, Guanqun (6 January 2009). "Weihe River pollution contained to reservoir". Xinhua News. Retrieved 6 January 2010.