Taiwan has launched a salvage operation to drain the tank of a grounded cargo vessel leaking oil off the coast of northern Taiwan to minimise environmental pollution.
State-run Central News Agency reports the 15,487-ton Taiwanese cargo ship TS Taipei was stranded on March 10 en route from Hong Kong to Keelung Port in northern Taiwan. All 21 crew members were rescued safely.
However, the ship split in two on Friday and started leaking more oil, as bad weather hampered the clean-up operation. Since then, more than 100 workers had been sent to contain the oil slick contaminating about a 2-kilometre stretch of coast at Shihmen in New Taipei City.
Environmental officials boarded the ship on Sunday to evaluate the conditions for the salvage operation as the weather improved, cabinet spokesman Sun Lih-chyun said. He said, however, the operation was dangerous as the ship could capsize at any time.
According to Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), about 240 tons of fuel oil and 30 tons of lubricating oil remain on the ship.
“It would take several days to complete the operation since it needs preparation and good weather conditions,” Sun told dpa Sunday in a telephone interview.
Sun said that experts from the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF) had been at the site to offer advice. Two companies, US Resolve and Japanese Nippon Salvage, are ready to help carry out the salvage operation.
Nine cargoes containing dangerous chemical substances on board had been closely monitored, Sun said.
As the site is near a fishing port and a nuclear power plant, environmental experts have warned that potential damage to the ecosystem could last for two to three years, local media reported.