U.S. Firm Assists in Response to South Korea's Largest Oil Spill

A U.S.-based environmental technology solutions company provided computer models and simulations to China's Oil Spill Emergency Response Center for monitoring and forecasting spilled oil from the worst oil spill in South Korean history.

On Dec. 7, 2007, the oil tanker Hebei Spirit, anchored 60 miles south of Seoul, was pierced by a crane-carrying barge, releasing 10,500 metric tons of crude oil into the sea.

The oil came ashore along a 186-mile stretch of shoreline on Korea’s west coast, a region active with fisheries. The spill blackened beaches, coated birds in oily tar and cast a foul smell over a nature reserve.

China and Japan sent 100 tons of dispersant and experts under a United Nations' emergency response plan to help South Korea mitigate the spill. The prospects for environmental rehabilitation after the spill are good due to "quick and effective action" by the Korean and other authorities, a joint United Nations-European Commission Assessment Team has found.

Korea’s neighbors in China offered support based on the United Nations Environment Programme’s  Northwest Pacific Action Plan. China used ASA’s OILMAP oil spill modeling response system for the Korean spill, and the Oil Spill Emergency Response Center of China's Maritime Safety Administration asked the modeling company for support. Xiongping Zhang, ASA’s Asia project director, provided modeling services to predict the trajectory and fate of the spill right after the accident.

The system connects to ASA’s COASTMAP real-time environmental data server, which aggregates crucial  Metocean data from various sources to increase the accuracy of the spill predictions. Zhang also answered the question of the spill's potential impact to the China coast using stochastic simulation based on the environmental data over the past 20 years. 

OILMAP's predicted oil trajectory provided by ASA was confirmed days later by an Envisat satellite image released by European Space Agency.

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