Wed, Mar 09, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Oil leak from a ship stranded off Penghu detected

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

The Yunhai cargo ship lies stranded just off the Penghu Archipelago yesterday.

Photo: Liu Yu-ching, Taipei Times

An oil leak was discovered on Monday on water surrounding an islet of the Penghu Archipelago (澎湖群島) where a cargo ship from Niue was stranded, and authorities yesterday initiated emergency response measures to combat the pollution and remove fuel from the ship.

The ship, the Yunhai, ran aground in waters near Niao Yu (鳥嶼), an islet in the northern part of Penghu County, on Feb. 25, but no oil pollution was discovered until Monday, when members of the Penghu Ocean Citizen Alliance posted a video showing oil floating on water around the stranded ship.

Alliance director Weng Chen-sheng (翁珍聖) yesterday said the group hired a boat to patrol the sea surrounding the cargo ship because nothing had been done in the 11 days since the ship was grounded, and they discovered an oil belt on waters to the south of the vessel, but they could not estimate the volume of the spill. He said the spill was diesel fuel rather than heavy crude oil, which is difficult to remove and takes a long time to decompose in the sea.

The Penghu Environmental Protection Bureau yesterday said that the Coast Guard Administration dispatched two vessels to the scene on Monday, but did not find the spill. However, the bureau sent a small fishing boat and located the spill, which the boat crew soaked up with oil-absorbent sheets, it said.

The bureau said that the oil might have washed off the ship’s mechanical parts, instead of leaking from oil tanks, which Weng said was yet to be confirmed.

Following the discovery of oil pollution, the bureau yesterday convened an emergency meeting with the ship’s Indonesian owner, the Maritime and Port Bureau, the coast guard and the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) to organize an oil removal program to remove the 145 tonnes of fuel in the ship’s tanks.

The program is to start on Friday after preparation finishes tomorrow and the oil tanks are expected to be emptied by Tuesday next week if weather conditions permit.

The situation is to be closely monitored by patrol officers of the coast guard and the EPA’s satellite monitoring system, the EPA said.

“The central and Penghu government felt the pressure after public opinion focused on the issue following the discovery of oil pollution, so they finally came up with an action plan to deal with the situation, which we are glad to see,” Weng said, calling on authorities to take action as soon as possible before the weather turns bad.

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