Grounded Ship Presents Serious Environmental Threats

An oil leak, the release of hazardous chemicals, and disruption of cooling facilities at a nearby nuclear reactor, are all potential threats posed by the grounding of a freighter near Shimen Township in the waters of New Taipei City.

The T.S. Lines freighter, is grounded on rocks close to shore after losing power in bad weather shortly after departing from Keelung Harbor enroute to Hong Kong. Breaches to the hull resulted in flooding of the engine compartment and damage to a fuel tank.

After grounding on March 9, 2016, rough conditions hampered efforts to approach the ship, but the crew of 21 was successfully airlifted on March 10. However, the following day, a helicopter landed EPA officials onto the ship to make inspections. While airlifting them off the ship, the aircraft lost control and crashed into the ocean, resulting in the loss of 2 lives.

An oil boom was floated around the ship in an attempt to contain oil spilling from the engine room, but the rough conditions have limited efficacy of the boom, and some oil has washed onshore. The ship is carrying 447 tons of gasoline and 40 tons of diesel fuel. The ship is also reported to be carrying 9 containers of hazardous materials.

There are also concerns that a significant oil spill could jeopardize the operations of a nearby nuclear power plant that relies on seawater for its cooling systems.

A stranded ship near Taipei city
A ship is seen grounded after losing power at Shimen in New Taipei City. The stranded ship poses several threats to the local ecology and the safety of nearby residents. Photo Credit: United Daily News.
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