Authorities yesterday worked to clean up oil that might have been illegally dumped in waters near Green Island (綠島), Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) officials said.
Officials said they received reports about the oil spill near Green Island on Friday night and yesterday sent experts to the site.
The oil spread about 10km along Green Island’s north coast, Green Island Inspection Office chief Hsiao Su-ping (蕭肅平) said.
The most heavily polluted waters stretched 600m from the island’s lighthouse in the northwest to Jhongliao Harbor (中寮港), Hsiao said, adding that the sea bed around the island was also affected by the oil.
The oil might have come from a cruise, cargo or other large ship, which might have dumped the oil in the open ocean, from where it washed ashore, Hsiao said.
Officials said they were using satellite images and ship tracking systems to try to identify the source of the spill.
Experts were trying to assess the extent of the pollution and have not determined what effect it would have on the area’s marine life and ecology, or how long it would take to clean up.
The spill was first reported by the Chinese-language United Daily News after Green Island resident Yu Ming-hung (俞明宏) on Friday posted several photographs and a video on Facebook showing the sea bed and Green Island’s north coast coated with thick, black oil.
The oil on the sea bed looked like a “large python,” Yu said, adding that a “suspicious” vessel passed through the area on Friday morning and might have dumped the oil.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Liu Chao-hao (劉櫂豪), who represents Taitung County, said he has requested that the agency immediately clean up the oil spill and closely follow up on the incident to protect the environment.
The EPA has vowed to find and punish the perpetrator and has urged the public not to go near the polluted area during the cleanup period for their own safety and to prevent further environmental damage.