Sat, Jan 06, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Oil damage estimate to be delivered next week

AN EARLY GUESS A preliminary figure for the clean up suggests the owner of the Maltese cargo ship will have to pay the central government at least NT$10 million

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Estimates of the damage caused by the Tzini oil spill on the nation's east coast last month will be delivered by Friday next week, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said yesterday. The Maltese cargo ship went aground off Suao Port (蘇澳港) on Dec. 24.

Hsu Jen-tse (許仁澤), chief of the EPA's marine pollution section, said in an interview with the Taipei Times yesterday the compensation package will include two parts.

The company, he said, must not only pay for the costs the government is facing to clean up the mess, but it must also pay for the damage done to local fishery resources as well as the damage to the marine environment.

According to Hsu, a preliminary estimate shows that the company will have to pay the central government at least NT$10 million (US$312,500). Regarding the damage to local fishery and other natural resources, the administration has asked the Suao Fishermen's Association (SFA) to quickly calculate their losses.

"Both the Taiwanese government and the ship's insurer (Assuranceforeningen Gard) have generally agreed that the entire incident will be settled through direct negotiations, and not through a lawsuit in the international court," Hsu added.

Assuranceforeningen Gard is also the insurer for Amorgus which was responsible for an oil leak several years ago. The firm reached a settlement with the EPA in August last year.

SFA representative Chen Sheng-yen (陳勝彥) said yesterday that the association has asked academics from the National Taiwan Ocean University to assist them in coming up with an accurate estimation of damages.

Chen said while it is relatively easy to determine the losses of fishermen that use set nets -- a commonly-used method to snare seasonal migrating fish along the coast -- it is much more difficult to gauge the long-term damage done to the marine environment.

"We don't want to just name a price that is not supported by specific evidence," Chen said, adding they will release their estimate on either Monday or Tuesday.

The Bureau of Environmental Protection under the Ilan County Government has reported that more than 100 tonnes of fuel oil leaked into the ocean.

The owner of the cargo ship was ordered to remove the remaining fuel oil on the vessel before having the ship towed out to sea.

However, the owner disobeyed the ruling.

Tzini's proprietor was fined a total of NT$3 million by the Ilan County Government for failing to act in time to prevent the oil leakage and for disobeying an administrative order in local waters.

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