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CPC admits oil tank leak in Penghu polluted land

2018/07/17 17:21:18

Taipei, July 17 (CNA) State-run oil refiner, CPC Corp., Taiwan, confirmed a media report Tuesday that 63 cubic meters of gasoline leaked from an oil tank at its oil depot in the outlying county of Penghu polluting about 0.8 hectares of land there.

CPC vice president Huang Jen-hung (黃仁弘) confirmed the leak to CNA after an Apple Daily report earlier in the day that detailed recent disclosures from CPC employees to the paper on the leak from No. 16 oil tank at Huxi Oil Depot last year.

Citing multiple whistleblowers, the tabloid reported that the leak was apparently caused by a failure to follow standard operating procedures at the depot. Moreover, the depot managers' efforts to conceal the leak may have exacerbated the problem and allowed up to 70 cubic meters of unleaded 95 octane gasoline to leak.

The report said Tsou Chueh-fei (鄒覺非), a deputy chief executive in oil product marketing at CPC, indicated he was unaware of the leak until May this year, and said the depot director and manager have since been disciplined, each receiving a major demerit.

Addressing the incident, Huang said No. 16 oil tank was overhauled every five years until sometime in between May and June last year.

At that time, workers pumping oil into the tank believed something was wrong and reported it to their supervisors, but were overruled because it was thought impossible a recently-overhauled oil tank would leak, Huang said.

It was only two days later that the leak was confirmed, with workers finding a rusty steel plate at the bottom of the tank that caused the leak, Huang said, adding that in late November, oil discharge was found on the top of the same tank.

In both cases officials at the Huxi Oil Depot failed to report the matter up the chain of command until January, when the CPC's regional office uncovered the problem itself, Huang said.

Under the company's decentralized management system, oil leaks are reported only when they are above a certain size, Huang said, noting that he believed managers of the Huxi Oil Depot decided not to report the matter because the oil tank was relatively small and thought they could fix the problem on their own.

Following discovery of the incident, the depot director and manager, who were not identified, both received one major demerit and were transferred, Huang said.

Asked about the size of the leak, Huang estimated that about 63 cubic meters of gasoline leaked from the bottom of the tank.

In May experts were invited to examine the site and reported that approximately 0.8 hectares of land has been tainted by the leaked fuel, according to Huang. The CPC has since taken measures to prevent the pollution spreading, he said.

"Restoration work has begun," Huang said, noting that the company will continue to clean up the site and monitor the pollution for a year.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Administration said the CPC could be slapped with a fine of NT$6 million (US$196,600) for concealing the oil leak, under the Water Pollution Control Act.

(By Liao Yu-yang and Elizabeth Hsu)