Wed, Jul 18, 2018 - Page 1 News List

CPC confesses to oil spill at Penghu oil depot

CONCEALMENT:Oil depot workers must have decided not to report the matter because they thought they could fix the problem on their own, the CPC vice president said

By Kuo Chia-erh and Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporters

State-owned oil refiner CPC Corp, Taiwan (台灣中油) yesterday apologized for concealing an oil leak at its oil depot in Penghu, but said the situation has been brought under control.

CPC vice president Huang Jen-hung (黃仁弘) confirmed a report by the Chinese-language Apple Daily yesterday, saying that since the end of last year, 63m3 of gasoline gushing out of the Penghu depot has polluted nearly 0.8 hectares of land due to officials working at the oil depot failing to follow standard operating procedures.

However, CPC’s management team was unaware of the leak until they in May this year found a rusty steel plate at the bottom of a tank, the cause of the leak, Huang told reporters.

Under the utility’s decentralized management system, oil leaks are only reported when they are beyond a certain size, Huang said, adding that he believed workers at the oil depot decided not to report the matter because they thought they could fix the problem on their own.

Apart from setting up oil contamination booms to prevent the spread of the oil, CPC has begun restoration work near the site and would continually monitor the pollution for a year, Huang said.

CPC is planning to outsource the pollution remediation project to minimize the effect of the leaked fuel, it said in a statement, without providing a detailed timetable.

“CPC should have immediately explained the whole situation to the public when the company found the leak,” Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Tseng Wen-sheng (曾文生) told reporters, calling for corporate responsibility.

The ministry would instruct CPC to carry out a comprehensive review and take appropriate disciplinary action, Tseng said.

The depot director and manager who concealed the incident have been disciplined, with each receiving a major demerit, CPC said.

In related news, the results of tests that the Penghu County Environmental Bureau is to conduct on underwater samples collected from two wells at CPC’s oil depot on Tuesday last week are to be made public in two weeks, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said yesterday.

The leak happened in June last year, while the bureau did not receive the utility’s notice until last week, EPA Soil and Groundwater Remediation Fund Management Board executive secretary Chen Shyh-wei (陳世偉) said.

The utility would face a fine of between NT$10,000 and NT$6 million (US$328 and US$196,818) for not reporting to the bureau of the leak happening within three hours, as required by Article 28 of the Water Pollution Control Act (水污染防治法), he said.

The local bureau might give the utility more fines if the latter did cause pollution to soil or groundwater, he said, adding total petroleum hydrocarbons are the key pollutants of the leak.

The EPA only knew about the incident yesterday from media reports because the bureau would not usually report it until it has sufficient evidence, Chen said, but added that some EPA officials have flown to the county to assist the bureau.

Additional reporting by CNA

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