The removal of a cargo ship that ran aground on a reef off New Taipei City’s Shimen District (石門) in March was completed yesterday, ending five months of spill cleanup and ship removal operations.
The front section of the stranded vessel, owned by Taiwanese shipping company TS Lines Co, was towed away yesterday afternoon and was expected to be moored outside Keelung Port for the night before it could be moved into the port today, depending on the tide, the Maritime and Port Bureau said.
The ship ran aground on March 10 and split into two parts on March 24, causing an oil spill.
The vessel’s rear half was removed and transported to Keelung Port on July 31.
“The front section of the ship was originally scheduled to be removed on Aug. 14, but favorable weather conditions allowed TS Lines and a wreck removal company to complete the removal ahead of schedule,” Maritime Affairs Center official Ho Wen-chih (何文智) said.
Follow-up operations are to continue at Shimen to recover remaining wreckage, two broken containers and other objects that fell from the ship, and to conduct water quality tests, Ho said.
“The cleanup operation has already been under way for a few days and it is expected to be finished in a couple of days,” he said.
The wreckage and salvaged containers are to be disassembled at Keelung Port.
The Environmental Protection Administration completed the cleanup of the coastal oil spill in May, restoring the water quality to normal levels.
Experts are trying to determine whether the environment, marine ecology and fishery resources can be restored, the New Taipei City Government said.
The oil spill damaged 42 fishing boats and their fishing equipment, and TS Lines paid about NT$5.77 million (US$182,768) in damages on 33 claims.
The New Taipei City Government said it would file a compensation claim for damage caused to the environment and fishery resources in Shimen, Jinshan (金山) and Wanli (萬里) districts once the Fisheries Agency completes its damage assessment.
Preliminary results of the assessment showed that the spill caused NT$17.81 million in damage to natural resources and the exact amount would be determined next month when the assessment is completed, the city said.
It has been estimated that it would take three to five years for the environment to recover.
Local fishermen have complained about the decrease their catches off Shimen, Jinshan and Wanli following the spill, and consumers are concerned about the quality of fish and shellfish caught in the area.
Rescuers aboard a helicopter were killed when it crashed during an operation to rescue the ship’s crew on March 11.
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