2011 Photo Contest, Spot News, 3rd prize

Lu Guang

24 July, 2010

On 16 July, two pipelines exploded as crude oil was being unloaded from a tanker in the port of Dalian, in northeast China.

About the photographer

Lu Guang

Lu Guang was born in 1961, in Zhejiang Province, China. He has been passionate about photography since he held a camera for the first time, in 1980 when he was a factory worker i...

Background story

Dalian, Liaoning, China
The funeral of firefighter Zhang Liang. On 16 July, two pipelines exploded as crude oil was being unloaded from a tanker in the port of Dalian, in northeast China, unleashing a massive oil slick into the Yellow Sea. Firefighter Zhang Liang, 25, died during clean-up operations. While diving to clear debris from the submerged pump responsible for pumping water to firefighting boats, he was caught in an undercurrent and drowned. His colleague Han Xiaoxiong, and later also their instructor Zheng Zhanhong, tried in vain to rescue him.

Photo credit:
Greenpeace International

Lu Guang speaks about the project:
"Whenever I see these pictures, I feel painful.

I have been paying attention to environmental protection and shooting on the environmental protection theme for more than ten years. On July 16, 2010, the pipeline explosion and oil spill accident happened in Dalian. Then I gave close attention to the situation of oil pollution in the ocean. On July 19, I arrived in Dalian. I got up at 4 o’clock in the morning on July 20 and shot for three hours along the seaside. At 8:10, I got to the sea area closest to the site of pipeline explosion. In the ocean with thick greasy dirt, I suddenly found two people in the oil contamination. I felt strange and shot several photos with telephoto lens at once. Then I ran towards them and asked the instructor at the shoreside. The instructor told me that they were the firefighters cleaning the oil contamination on the water pump (later the names of two soldiers were known. One was Zhang Liang; the other was Han Xiaoxiong).

After several minutes, someone shouted for help. Zhang Liang was pulled by the undercurrent three meters away from the water pump. He lost control. The instructor rushed into the greasy dirt to save Zhang Liang. He grasped Zhang’s head and hands; however, it was too slick. He seized Zhang for a while, but loosened at last. Within one minute, Zhang Liang was drowned by the oil and water. My hands began to tremble. A life disappeared in front of me. Zhang Liang sacrificed with glory at the age of 25. Han Xiaoxiong was injured because of absorbing much oil.

The two soldiers were responsible for the floating boat pump of long-distance water supply system. In order to guarantee putting out the fire and supplying water in the front, they had to clean the sundries on the floating boat pump every day, such as the oil contamination and the sea grass. They had been working for four days continuously since the explosion happened. That day should have been the date on which Zhang Liang and his fiancée took their wedding pictures.

I have been engaged in shooting for 30 years. However, this is my first time to meet such situation. Whenever I recalled the scene and saw these pictures, I felt painful in my mind. At first, I didn’t want to see these pictures anymore. Without the oil contamination, Zhang Liang would not die. The fire fighting solider Zhang Liang sacrificed for people. Through these shocking pictures, I hope that more people can pay attention to pollution and realize the effect of oil to environment. This is the comfort to martyr Zhang Liang. Meanwhile, it is also the reason for my participation in to the contest and making more people see these pictures."

Technical information

Shutter Speed
1/125 s
Focal length
70 mm

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