The Chinese government plans to sue US oil giant ConocoPhillips over recent oil spills in north China's Bohai Bay amid mounting public anger, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday.
"The State Oceanic Administration is ready to file a lawsuit demanding compensation for the leaks after choosing a team of lawyers, hopefully before the end of this month," a spokesman with the administration was quoted as saying on Wednesday in Beijing.
The maritime authority said 870 square km of the bay have been seriously polluted by the oil spills.
ConocoPhillips China, a subsidiary of ConocoPhillips, first reported the oil spills in June. The spills have spread to beaches in Hebei and Liaoning provinces and been blamed for losses in local tourism and aquatic farming industries.
ConocoPhillips China admitted that nine new oil spill sources have been found in the bay as of Aug. 20. The administration has ordered the firm to "take all effective measures" to stop the oil spill and remove risks of any new leakage before August 31.
On Wednesday, Georg Storaker, President of ConocoPhillips China, said in Beijing that his company can complete the clean-up of oil spilled into the bay before the deadline set by the administration, adding that it has thus far not received any demand for compensation but insisted that they will "discuss" the issue in case of a lawsuit.
Storaker said 95 percent of the oil-based mud on the seabed had been cleaned up, and the clean-up of the rest contaminated mud would be completed by the end of August.
He said the firm is now working closely with the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), which jointly owns the oilfield, to solve the problem.