Ships cast adrift after cables snapped during Typhoon Meranti’s onslaught in southern Taiwan and Kinmen, now pose an environmental threat as oil spills from the stranded vessels.
Authorities are struggling to contain oil spills in Kaohsiung’s Xiziwan (West Bay), and on the island of Kinmen (Golden Gate).
Four Seine-Net fishing vessels whose cables snapped during the typhoon ran aground in Xiziwan, and oil spilling from the boats is threatening a nearby coral ecosystem. After viewing the site on September 15, the Environmental Bureau set a target of ten days to eliminate the threat.
Two of the ships were towed back to port, while the remaining two have listed onto their sides and remain aground. The remaining oil and fuel has been removed from one of the vessels, while it is expected to take from 3 to 7 days to remove the fuel from the second boat. In the meantime, an oil boom has been deployed to prevent oil spreading, and workers are using absorbent cotton to soak up oil from the shore.
In Kinmen County, a large freighter originally moored in China’s Xiamen Province drifted and grounded on the Taiwan-administered island of Kinmen. Heavy oil is leaking out of the breached hull. The deputy head of the Environmental Bureau visited the island on September 18 and promised ‘unlimited’ funds and equipment to deal with the spill.