Tokyo, 2 February 2018 – In relation to the oil spill from the Sanchi oil tanker, oil may have now reached the Japanese island of Takarajima as of 28 January, Greenpeace today expressed concern about the environmental risks and potential threat to the health of both people and wildlife.

Greenpeace International Science Unit, Dr. Paul Johnston said:
“It appears that the island of Takarajma is in one of the higher risk areas predicted by the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and at this stage it seems likely that the oil we are seeing on images provided by KTS TV and Asahi Shimbun is from the Sanchi. In order to confirm that it is from the Sanchi, it would need to be analytically “fingerprinted” against a sample of the fuel oil taken from the site where the tanker went down.It may be emulsified bunker oil, but it may also be heavy residue from the condensate: it will be impossible to tell until testing is done. Cetaceans and birds are at high risk of exposure, and fish may be contaminated as well.

It is important that visual and chemical monitoring should be intensified to assess the scale of the  incident, and potential impact, and priority efforts should be directed towards using mechanical recovery methods to prevent this from coming ashore. Chemical dispersants should be avoided and only used as an absolute last resort, since both they and steam cleaning tend to  increase toxicity and damage. Mechanical removal is also the least damaging method for cleaning up oil that affects the shore. We suggest that this be initiated immediately by Japanese authorities. All  people involved in the cleaning should protect themselves from skin and inhalation exposure with appropriate protective gear.”

A factsheet on the accident up to 15 January 2018 is here.