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Grounded Malta ship leaks 110 tons of fuel

The 23,000ton "Tzini" is seen after running aground off the coast in Yilan County yesterday morning.

The 23,000ton "Tzini" is seen after running aground off the coast in Yilan County yesterday morning.

Tons of fuel leaked from a Malta vessel that ran aground off northeastern Taiwan yesterday morning, putting authorities on high alert for potential environmental damage.
According to Suao port authorities, "Tzini," a 23,000-ton cargo vessel from Malta, ran aground in waters off Yilan County at around 5:30 a.m. yesterday morning.
The 24 crewmen on board, including a Russian captain and 23 Filipino sailors, were in no immediate danger, but the leakage of at least 110 tons of fuel oil after the vessel was gashed by a sandbar raised fears that a reef sanctuary in Nanfangao, about 10-odd kilometers south of Suao, would be polluted.
The head of Yilan County's Environmental Protection Bureau, Chou Tsan-yang, said the fuel had already polluted at least nine kilometers along the coast from Yilan to Hualien. Chou estimated the fuel would have a heavy negative impact upon the landscape and fishing resources in the area.
The Environmental Protection Administration said yesterday the persons responsible should help clean up the leaked fuel before being allowed to depart.
But a spokesperson for the Maritime Patrol Directorate General of the Coast Guard Administration, Lin Hsin-heng, said the disaster had been brought under control
"Oil booms have been used to prevent further spillage of the leaked fuel," he said.
"The vessel's owners could face a fine of up to NT$1.5 million because environmental agencies believe that the fuel leak will seriously pollute ocean and marine life," Lin said.
It was unclear if the fine was a one-time fine or would be applied every day that fuel continued to leak.
A Coast Guard Administration official surnamed Shen told a local cable TV news station that a bit of good fortune might limit the damage left in the leak's wake, however, as ocean currents had kept the fuel concentrated in a specific northern corner off the coast.
"It's possible we could clear up the leaked fuel by the nightfall," Shen said, although as of last night, there was no official word that the clean-up had been completed. The cause of the accident was still being investigated., but the Central News Agency reported that a mechanical breakdown played a key role.


Updated : 2021-02-28 15:39 GMT+08:00