Mon, Mar 05, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Iranian container vessel’s owner pays pollution fine

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

The local shipping agent for the Iranian container ship Sarvin yesterday handed over a check for NT$1.5 million (US$51,150) to the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) to cover a fine for the illegal discharge of waste fuel off the coast of Kaohsiung in October last year.

One of the EU’s Sentinel-1 satellites captured images of a ship at 5:52am on Oct. 9 that seemed to be discharging waste fuel off the coast of Kaohsiung, EPA officials said yesterday, adding that the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was asked to help interpret the image.

The NOAA has been helping monitor marine traffic around Taiwan since 2013, when it signed the Establishing Satellite-Based Marine Oil Monitoring Collaborative Activity agreement with National Central University’s Center for Space and Remote Sensing Research.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications’ Harbor and Marine Technology Center also helped identify the ship through its automatic identification system.

Judging from the satellite image, the ship discharged about 5 tonnes of waste oil for at least two or three hours, leaving a pollution track that was almost 60km long, Department of Water Quality Protection Deputy Director-General Liu Jui-hsiang (劉瑞祥) said.

Despite the scope of the pollution, it did not require much clean-up work, as the pollutants had been carried away by fast-moving currents and evaporated, a one-week monitoring mission determined, Liu said.

The EPA decided to fine the ship’s owner NT$1.5 million for contravening Article 29 of the Marine Pollution Control Act (海洋污染防治法), but officials spent months trying to track down the owner, he said.

After learning the ship would arrive at the Port of Kaohsiung yesterday morning, the EPA called a meeting with Coast Guard Administration and ministry officials to organize an inspection visit once the ship was moored, he said.

The Taiwanese agent for the ship handed over the check at a meeting in Kaohsiung with EPA and other officials, Liu added.

The ship’s corporate executives must also attend an eight-hour session on protecting the environment, the EPA said.

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