Image Source: PicasaWeb

Image Source: PicasaWeb

Last week, an oil pipeline burst in northern China, causing one major oil spill. Thousands of gallons (liters) of diesel flowed into a main tributary of the Yellow River.

The pipeline, operated by CNPC (China National Petroleum Corporation), is located near Shaanxi province and is used to transport diesel from Gansu province in the northwest to the more centralized places in the country. Investigations show that the bursting was caused by a local construction project.

To make matters worse, oil has already been found at least 20.5 miles (33 km) downstream from the spill, making the cleanup quite the daunting task. So far, 23 containment belts have been set up downstream from the spill and hundreds of people have been trying to clean things up. China’s rivers and lakes are already extremely polluted due to the amount of economic growth that’s happened in the past 30 years. This has left over 200 million Chinese citizens without proper drinking water. China also ranks as one of the top polluters in the world, especially when it comes to air pollution.

The Yellow River, or Huang He, is known as the “cradle of Chinese civilization”, since northern Chinese civilizations were founded along its basin. It was also once one of the most prosperous regions in all of China. However, extreme flood risk and increase in pollution would soon remove some of its former glory, leaving some areas of the river with unfortunate nicknames like “China’s Sorrow”. It is the second largest river in China and the 6th largest in the world. The river owes its colored name to the loess, or silt-like sediment that hangs in the water.  If the oil from the spill is able to reach the yellow river, it could mean a lot of trouble for wildlife that live in and along the river, as well as the people and domesticated animals.

Updates will be posted as they happen.