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Iran prioritizes focus on sunken oil tanker

Greenpeace said last week it appeared some of the oil from the sunken Sanchi has washed up on Japan's coast.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Iran prioritizes focus on sunken oil tanker
Iran's government says it considers the response to the Sanchi oil tanker, which sank last month, a top priority. Photo courtesy of the Islamic Republic News Agency

Feb. 5 (UPI) -- With pollution on the coast of Japan a concern, the Iranian government said Monday it was prioritizing its response to the sinking of the oil tanker, Sanchi.

The Japanese government said Friday it set up its own operations to vet information about the possibility that oil from Iranian oil tanker Sanchi had reached its shores. The Sanchi was carrying about 1 million barrels of a light form of crude oil called condensate from Iran to South Korea when it crashed into a Chinese freighter on Jan. 6 and sank eight days layer.

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Officials from the Japanese Coast Guard said there no official confirmation the oily substance was from Sanchi, while its fisheries agency said it was considering an independent survey.

Ali Akbar Marzban, an official from the Iranian Ports and Maritime Organization, said the government in Tehran considers the Sanchi investigation one of its top priorities.

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"Different bodies including the National Iranian Tanker Company, Ports and Maritime Organization and Iran Navy forces acted in a coordinated way in the sad accident," he was quoted by the official Islamic Republic News Agency as saying.

All of the 32 crew members of the Sanchi died as a result of either exposure to toxic gases or to the fire on board the vessel. Two of the crew members were Bangladeshi and the rest were Iranian.

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The Iranian government said crews also recovered the vessel's data recorder, known commonly as a black box. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani formed a special committee to investigate the cause of the incident.

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Greenpeace International's Paul Johnston said last week it seems "likely" that oil washing up on the southern Japanese island of Takarajima was from Sanchi.

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