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Sulfuric acid could leak in salvage effort

By Wang Qian and Li Wenfang (China Daily)

09:51, March 21, 2012

Authorities are looking at two methods of salvaging a ship that sank on March 13 near the coast of southern Guangdong province, but they say there is no guarantee that the sulfuric acid it is carrying will not leak into the sea.

The Kenos Athena, a ship registered in South Korea, was carrying 7,000 metric tons of concentrated sulfuric acid and 140 metric tons of residual fuel oil when it sank in waters adjacent to Zhelang Island, according to a statement on the State Oceanic Administration's (SOA) website.

Authorities are considering two salvage plans, an official who declined to be named told China Daily on Tuesday.

One plan is to remove the sulfuric acid tank from the sunken vessel, then set the ship upright, and then pump it so that it will float. The other is to salvage the ship and then remove the sulfuric acid, the official said

But regardless of the method chosen, the acid could leak, and if it touches the water could even explode, the official said.

According to China Central Television reports, the plan to begin the salvage operation by removing the tank would take about 25 days, and the second plan would take about twice as long. The TV report said authorities are leaning toward the first plan, but no decision had been made.

The ship's owner and the insurance company arrived in Shanwei, Guangdong, to discuss the salvage operation and cost, according to the official.

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