BEIJING, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- ConocoPhillips China (COPC) said on Wednesday that it had sealed off leaks from an oil spill that polluted north China's Bohai Bay before the Aug. 31 deadline. However, the claim has not been verified by China's maritime authority.
COPC, a subsidiary of U.S. oil giant ConocoPhillips, said it had submitted a report to China's State Oceanic Administration (SOA), showing that the company has met the SOA's requirements to seal off the sources of the spill and eliminate the risk for further leaks.
SOA confirmed with Xinhua late Wednesday that it has received the report but said the administration still needs to conduct site inspection and expert evaluation to verify the company's conclusions.
SOA said it will scrutinize whether the company has met the requirements as it claims.
The oil spill at the Penglai 19-3 oil field, China's largest offshore oilfield, was first spotted in June. It is "the most serious marine ecological incident in China," according to SOA.
A total of 5,500 square km of the bay's surface has been contaminated, with 870 square km seriously polluted, meaning that it is unfit for swimming and aquatic farming, according to SOA official Wang Fei.
Although the company has worked to clean up the spills, pollutants have still been found in the bay, even after cleanup efforts were reported to be complete.
The spills have spread to beaches in Hebei and Liaoning provinces and have been blamed for losses in the local tourism and aquatic farming industries. Aquatic farmers in Hebei planned to sue COPC and claim a total of 330 million yuan (51.56 million U.S. dollars) in compensation, according to media reports.
SOA was also collecting evidence and gauging the ecological impact of the spills in preparation for possible legal action against COPC, SOA head Liu Cigui said last week.