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Oil Still Leaking In Indonesia

October 4, 2000

SINGAPORE (AP) _ Oil was still leaking on Wednesday from a Panama-registered tanker that ran aground between Indonesia and Singapore the day before, spilling millions of gallons of crude into the sea, officials said.

``There have been reports of some fresh oil leaks from the damaged tanks today,″ said Ong Chong Pheng, a spokeswoman for the Singapore Maritime and Port Authority.

At least 2 million gallons of crude oil spilled into the busy shipping lanes after the Natuna Sea ran aground at dawn Tuesday. None of the 32 people aboard were injured.

The disabled vessel is in Indonesian waters about five miles southeast of Singapore.

The ship’s management earlier had said the leakage had stopped within hours of the mishap, but officials in Singapore said there was still some leakage Wednesday. Chong called the amount of the latest leaks ``not very significant,″ but said the exact amount was not known.

A private salvage company sent additional salvage and cleanup craft to the site Wednesday, the Maritime and Port Authority, or MPA, said in a statement.

An oil patch about one mile long and half a mile wide was sighted early Tuesday drifting toward Indonesia’s Riau islands, which lay about 12 miles south of Singapore.

Cleanup crews dispersed the patch by spraying it with chemicals from boats and from a plane.

Salvage crews contained the latest leakage Wednesday with an oil boom _ a floating device to contain spills _ placed around the vessel, the MPA statement said.

They also began transferring oil from the stricken vessel early Wednesday to a different ship, the MPA said.

It was not clear what caused the tanker to run aground. Indonesian authorities were investigating, Ong said.

The spill, though substantial, was smaller than other high-profile mishaps such as a 1997 tanker collision that spilled about 7 million gallons of oil off Singapore. The well-known Exxon Valdez tanker incident in Alaska dumped 11 million gallons in 1989.

The Natuna Sea left Jeddah, Saudi Arabia en route to China, and was supposed to stop in Singapore for refueling.

Four of the vessel’s oil tanks, containing an estimated 11 million gallons, were damaged, the MPA said.

Update hourly