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Beached ship harms local marine fauna in N. Taiwan

0.58 hectares of reef destroyed, prompting protests from environmental groups

Evidence shows massive killing of coral species by CPC's work vessel (TEIA's Flickr photo)

Evidence shows massive killing of coral species by CPC's work vessel (TEIA's Flickr photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A CPC Corporation (CPC) work vessel that had been beached on March 28 at the coast in Datan, an industrial borough in northern Taiwan, was found to have destroyed a vast amount of algal reefs and killed an endangered coral species in the area.

The CPC was building its third liquified natural gas receiving station for its power plant in Datan when a massive wave sent the ship toward the algal reefs after a rope broke off. The ship then hit the reefs and scraped away 0.58 hectares (5800 square meters) of the marine fauna before getting stuck on the beach.

According to drone footage, Dr. Allen Chen (陳昭倫), a researcher from the Academia Sinica's Biodiversity Research Center, said the white area seen in the video represented the most damaged part. The vessel left a deep and straight scar on the reef, with a thickness of up to 50 centimeters eradicated, the TEIA reported.

Chen mentioned that "corallina" in the algal reel were responsible for its regeneration which on average, is approximately 0.1 cm per year. "It will take almost 500 years to grow back the damaged area," he said, adding that the endangered coral species "Polycyathus chaishanensis," which was listed as a new species in 2012, was also affected by this unfortunate incident.

Building a new receiving station in Datan is a necessity, in order to meet Taiwan's ambitious shift to cleaner energy sources. According to CPC Corporation, the country aims to have 50 percent of its electricity generated by natural gas.

However, the company's original plan to build a new station at the Port of Taipei failed to meet demand and also drew backlash from the locals. As a result, the coast of Datan became the only ideal construction site despite the prevalence of the algal reefs.

Environmental groups rejected this argument, urging the Taoyuan City Government to initiate prosecution for this incident as the evidence of endangered species being harmed is substantial. They also called on the government to hold public hearings for this receiving station project and move it to the Port of Taipei as soon as possible.

Updated : 2021-06-14 12:01 GMT+08:00