EPA amendment to Marine Act would raise pollution fines

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Jun 21, 2017 - Page 3

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday proposed an amendment to the Marine Pollution Control Act (海洋污染防治法) to raise the maximum fine for ships that cause pollution.

The amendment can be regarded as a reaction to a pollution incident near Green Island earlier this year, EPA Department of Water Quality Director Yeh Chun-hung (葉俊宏) said.

In March, Green Island was affected by machine oil spill along 8km of its northeastern coastline.

In April, EPA officials went to Australia to inspect the ship allegedly responsible for the spill.

“We have examined the Australian ship, but found it is not the source,” Yeh said, adding that more investigation is needed.

Such a big incident of marine pollution occurs every two or three years, but the agency does not have a fixed budget to deal with such pollution, he said.

As Taiwan is not a signatory to the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage or the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage, the nation cannot obtain compensation via the treaties.

Should the legislature pass the amendment, fines would be increased from NT$1.5 million (US$49,340) to NT$300 million to help the agency handle marine pollution, compensate people affected and reward those who report polluting activities, Yeh said.

Under the proposed amendment, ship owners who discharge wastewater or other polluting substances into the ocean would face a fine of between NT$300,000 and NT$30 million, and if violators do not clean up the pollution within a specific time frame, the fine could be increased to NT$300 million, along with a prison sentence of one to seven years.

In case of a shipwreck, owners would have to take action to prevent possible pollution, the draft says, adding that violators in such cases that do not clean up the pollution within a given time frame would face a maximum fine of NT$60 million.