Environment: Oil Shokku for Japan

To keep its economy healthy, Japan must receive one fully loaded supertanker every hour of every day. It must also get oil from the Middle East via the shortest route and then provide vast storage facilities for the vital fuel—all without undue environmental risk. Until recently, the Japanese were confident that they could transport and store their oil safely and efficiently. Now two serious oil spills have caused shokku (shock) and raised grave doubts on both counts.

One spill occurred last week when the 237,698-ton supertanker Showa Maru ran aground at the eastern entrance to the Malacca Strait between Singapore and Malaysia...

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