A pipeline rupture during the transfer of chemical materials to a CPC chemical tanker at the Port of Kaohsiung spilled six tons of oleoresin into the ocean and polluted surrounding waters Thursday. A pungent chemical smell was carried on the wind to the Cijin District of Kaohsiung. At approximately 8:30 PM more than 170 were sickened by the odor and admitted to the hospital.
The Kaohsiung Harbor Fire Brigade indicated, a chemical ship sailing under the flag of Hong Kong named “Tiger Winter” docked at pier 62 of the Port of Kaohsiung Thursday afternoon. CPC’s Cianjhen storage station transferred mixed aromatic resin oil to the tanker for transport to China. During loading operations, the pipeline ruptured, spilling approximately six tons of oleoresin into the ocean and polluting the waters surrounding the harbor. After receiving the report, the Kaohsiung Branch of the Taiwan International Ports Corporation, Kaohsiung City Government Marine Bureau, and the chemical tanker company dispatched personnel to stem the spread of the spill with an encircling oil boom. However, as of Thursday night, the spill had spread to the waters surrounding pier 61 and 62.
Since the spilled oleoresin has an aromatic chemical odor and was carried by the wind to the Cijin District on the opposite shore, uninformed citizens thought they smelled a “gas leak” and quickly reported the perceived danger in a panic. The municipal government’s 1999 hotline also received a stream of complaints. At approximately 8 PM to 9 PM, residents of Cijin began displaying symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, and vomiting and were admitted to Cijin Hospital. As of midnight, over 170 people have sought treatment.
City councilperson Lee Chou-ru indicated that this was not the first time a CPC tanker has leaked material. She said, “we cannot accept this kind of industrial safety quality” and does not rule out staging a public protest at CPC. The Environmental Protection Bureau remarked that it does not rule out levying a fine according to the “Air Pollution Control Act.” The Marine Bureau stated, since the ocean was polluted due to the CPC oleoresin accident, it will fine CPC NT$1 million according to the “Marine Pollution Control Act.”