Cleaning up the Yeosu oil spill will be harder than initially expected.
While volunteers and authorities are doing all they can to reduce damage from the Lunar New Year's Day accident, tidal currents and winds are making things worse.
In addition to waters off the southern port city of Yeosu in Jeollanam-do Province, the oil has spread north, south and east from the original spill site to Namhae-gun County in Gyeongsangnam-do Province, where an oil slick measuring roughly 30 kilometers in diameter has formed.
Aside from the clean-up efforts, questions are being raised about the accident itself.
The head of the Yeosu maritime police department said Monday that 164-thousand liters were spilled, which is 2-hundred times greater than the first estimates by the company said to be responsible for the accident, GS Caltex.
The spill happened after a Singapore-registered oil tanker hit a landing bridge, causing three underwater pipelines operated by GS Caltex to rupture.
The Yeosu Coast Guard blames the tanker's pilots for exceeding the recommended speed on approach and GS Caltex for not reporting the spill until 30 minutes after it occurred.
Residents affected by the spill say they're worried the pollution could lead to health problems and impact fishing, a primary source of income for many in the area.
"When I first saw the news, they said it wasn't a big amount of oil that spilled. That's why I didn't think it would spread this far to where I work."
While officials say it is not difficult to get rid of the oil spilled in the water, the bigger problem lies on the seashore where the clean-up process could take weeks.
In the meantime, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said Tuesday that GS Caltex should compensate those affected.
The ministry, company and related authorities are scheduled to hold a meeting on the issues surrounding the spill on Thursday.
Kwon So-a, Arirang News.