BEIJING (Reuters) - China plans inspections of coastal regions for potential pollution risks from oil spills, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
The inspections were aimed at enhancing awareness among local governments and companies about safe production, and establishing mechanisms to prevent oil leaks, Xinhua reported, quoting Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) spokesman Tao Detian.
The MEP and six other ministries had formed seven work groups to conduct inspections of 11 coastal provinces and municipalities, including Guangdong, Shanghai, Tianjin and Zhejiang, the report said.
The inspections, scheduled from late October to early November, would focus on companies involved in onshore oil exploration and production, oil refining and storage, pipeline transmission, and oil ports, it said.
China has experienced an increasing number of oil spills in recent years, damaging the environment and threatening the safety of drinking water.
In September, the government ordered a full shutdown of the country's largest offshore oil field, Penglai 19-3, operated by a subsidiary of ConocoPhillips, after an oil spill there.
The leak has polluted 5,500 square kilometers of water and has been described by the government as "the most serious marine ecological incident in China."
Last year, an explosion at two crude oil pipelines in the northeastern port of Dalian triggered a major offshore oil spill, forcing top oil producer China National Petroleum Corp to cut processing and importers to divert cargoes elsewhere.
(Reporting by Judy Hua and Chen Aizhu; Editing by Chris Lewis)