Through the Lens: the Dalian Oil Spill

24 Mar ’11

Somehow I missed all this. I guess the BP oil spill took over the news at the time. Via Wired.com:

Last July, while America was coming to terms with the fallout from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, China itself was dealing with the largest oil spill in its history in the city of Dalian. During the disaster, a fatal act of bravery was caught on film by a nearby photographer.

Assigned by Greenpeace to the area, Chinese photographer Lu Guang documented the environmental destruction and the clean-up effort in Dalian. While he was photographing the city’s harbor for his assignment, a 25 year-old firefighter named Zhang Liang waded into the harbor to clear a water pump but lost his footing. Despite efforts by rescuers, Liang drowned.

With shaking hands, Lu Guang photographed Liang’s death on 47 digital files. The episode lasted less than six minutes. A second firefighter, Han Xiao Xiong lost consciousness beneath the slick but was rescued. The tragic series of photos later won third prize in the 2011 World Press Photo awards’ spot news category.