Looming Oil Spill Disaster?

A loaded Taiwanese oil tanker involved in a collision in the Strait of Malacca last night is on fire, listing badly and may sink, according to Malaysian police.

The ailing ship, Formosaproduct Brick, is a 228 meter tanker with a cargo capacity of 79646 cubic meters.

If it’s fully loaded; that’s a lot of oil – over 21 *million* gallons, or 28,126 tons.

The Strait of Malacca is a 805 km (500 mile) stretch of water between West Malaysia and the Indonesian island of Sumatra and is one of the most important shipping lanes in the world. Around a quarter of all oil carried by sea passes through the strait.

Repeated dumping of oil in the waters is already causing serious environmental damage in the area, known to be rich in marine resources. A large oil spill in such a small area could spell disaster for marine ecosystems.

While it wouldn’t be the largest oil spill in history and not even a contestant for the “100,000 club”, The Exxon Valdez spill was “only” 10.8 million gallons – just over half of this ship’s capacity. The oil from the Exxon Valdez disaster eventually covered 11,000 square miles.

Like Exxon Valdez, if a spill eventuates (and here’s hoping it doesn’t), it will be occurring in a relatively confined stretch of water.

Learn more about the effects of oil spills