Wed, Oct 12, 2005 - Page 2 News List

EPA: No toxic leak yet from stranded chemical vessel

SAFE SO FAR After testing the waters around the collision site, the EPA has announced that no benzene has yet leaked from the Korean ship


Officials from the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday confirmed that initial testing of water samples collected from the surrounding waters following the collision between two freighters on Monday show there is no leakage of benzene.

A South Korean freighter carrying 3,000m3 of benzene capsized off Taoyuan County on Monday after colliding with a Liberian-registered container ship from Hong Kong.

The collision initially triggered an emergency operation to prevent the spill of hundreds of tonnes of toxic chemicals.

Athough the samples tested negative, the EPA, still fearing the possibility of contamination, is attempting to haul away the capsized ship to minimize the damage.

Crew from the capsized ship told the EPA officials that they are confident of the structure of the storage tank carrying the benzene, as this type of storage tank is specifically designed for the substance.

If the other ship had hit the storage tank rather than the body, the ship would not have been seriously damaged, they said.

In addition, the EPA officials also pointed out that there are spills of light oil and heavy oil from the ship, covering an area of several square kilometers.

Fortunately, the spills are not spreading, said EPA officials. Besides, light oil is a substance of high volatility and most of it has evaporated. What is left on the sea surface is heavy oil and dirt that does not require special cleanup.

The crew of the stricken skip have suggested that the spilled substance be burned, but the EPA is worried that such a measure might cause further contamination and believes that the best way to solve the problem is to tow the ship away as soon as possible.

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