Oil Spill in Northern Taiwan may Take Three Years to Recover

Oil Spill in Northern Taiwan may Take Three Years to Recover
船舶裂縫位置在第3貨艙處。攝影:周昭蕊

On March 10, a Taiwan-registered cargo ship was stranded and broke in half 300 meters away from the coast of Shihmen in New Taipei City, spilling oil and some of the 600 some cargo containers containing toxic chemicals. This was the result of a storm pushing the Hong Kong-bound ship on to the northern coast.

The ship’s crew was safely evacuated.

The cleanup of the oil spill continued as more than 100 cleanup workers battle bad weather to both salvage the wreck and contain the spread of oil that already stained at least two kilometers of the Shihmen coast. Clean-up operations have already resulted in two deaths and one seriously injured. Meanwhile boats designed to cleanup oil were unable to access the site.

In a press conference held by the Taiwan government, government spokesperson Sun Lih-chyun stated that experts from the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF) were on site while Resolve Marine and Nippon Salvage are ready to help with salvage operations.

Taiwan’s EPA Minister Wei Kuo-yen stated that radar, satellites, and drones are currently being used to monitor the wreck and oil situations.

While the shipping company, T.S. Lines, estimated the cleanup would take approximately seven days, Premier Simon Chang demanded a faster cleanup, which resulted in the current revised estimate of five days to cleanup the oil and salvaging the wreck.

Environmentalists and officials see the environmental damage as long-lasting due to the mix of oil and toxic chemicals. Michael Lee of the nonprofit Society of Wilderness commented that the incident would “take three years for the local ecological system to recover to some extent.” Over 300 metric tons of oils were onboard the ship when it became stranded. Toxic chemicals such as paint, corrosive liquids, and potassium perchlorate were reportedly in the cargo containers.

Edited by Olivia Yang

Sources:
“Taiwan Dealing with Major Oil Spill from Fractured TS Taipei Cargo Ship" (gCaptain)
“Container Ship Breaks Apart, Causes Massive Oil Spill On Taiwan Coast" (Tech Times)
“Drone Gets Close-Up Views of Oil Spill Off Taiwan" (nymag.com)
“[Updated] Taiwan: Ship Broken Up, Spilling Oil" (The Maritime Executive)
“Shipwreck causes massive oil slick in Taiwan" (New York Post)
“Taiwan’s efforts to prevent ship oil spill" (SBS)


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