Oil spill from sunken ship to not affect environment: agency

10/25/2020 08:16 PM
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Photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Administration
Photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Administration

Kaohsiung, Oct. 25 (CNA) Oil spillage from a freighter that sunk in waters off the coast of Kaohsiung on Friday are not expected to cause an environmental emergency, Taiwan's Ocean Conservation Administration (OCA) said Sunday.

The Tuvalu-registered Seatran Ferry 12 lost power and sunk in open seas some 28 nautical miles southwest of Kaohsiung. Taiwan's Coast Guard Administration (CGA) later managed to rescue five crewmen, but the five others on the ship were still missing as of Sunday afternoon.

All the crew members are believed to be Thai citizens, according to the CGA.

While the CGA is continuing its search for the missing crew, Deputy OCA Director-General Sung Hsin-chen (宋欣真) said the OCA has been monitoring the oil that leaked from the vessel.

According to the OCA, the freighter in question had 36 metric tons of diesel oil and 500 kilograms of lubricating oil in storage.

An OCA drone found that the sea surface affected by the leak from the sunken ship was estimated at about one kilometer by 50 meters as of 5 a.m. Saturday.

By 1 p.m. the same day, the size of the slick caused by the leak had been significantly reduced, according to the OCA.

Sung said the OCA ran an oil spill model that gives predictions of the movement of spilled oil and found that it is heading south-southwest away from the site of the sunken ship.

Given the fact that diesel oil vaporizes easily, the OCA believed that the oil spill would not seriously affect the ecology of nearby waters, Sung said.

Even so, the OCA is working closely with the CGA and other government agencies to monitor the oil slick and is doing its best to contain it to minimize its possible environmental impact.

Meanwhile, the OCA said another ship that ran aground off Kaohsiung, the Chih Hai 8, is ready to be removed from the site after the ship's owner cleaned up the cargo ship's spilled oil.

The Sierra Leone-registered ship was stranded in waters near Kaohsiung on Oct. 12. The vessel's 13 crew members were later airlifted to shore.

(By Hou Wen-ting and Joseph Yeh)

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