Oil refinery spill spreads to Kenting National Park beaches and coral reefs

An oil spill from an offshore pipeline of the Dalin Oil Refinery in Kaohsiung City has spread to sensitive ecological coastal zones including the popular resort areas of Kenting and the Hengchun Peninsula in Pingtung County, according to reports this weekend.

The Oceanic Conservation Department of the Ocean Commission issued a press release yesterday, June 25 saying that the ecology of precious coral reefs are in danger, and announcing that it will impose penalties on petroleum company CPC Corp.

An oil spill was first reported Tuesday, June 22, when an estimated 25 metric tonnes of crude oil leaked from a ruptured pipeline at an offshore unloading facility at the Dalin Oil Refinery in Kaohsiung City.

CPC told media Tuesday that a cleanup of the oil slick was underway and was expected to be completed by Wednesday night. However, the spill affected the beaches of Xiaoliuqiu Island in the ensuing days.

Vase Rock Xiaoliuqiu Island oil spill
Coast Guard personnel set up oil absorbing booms at Xiaoliuqiu’s iconic Vase Rock, June 23, 2021.

As of June 26 the oil was seen washing up on coastal reefs on the Hengchun Peninsula and in Kenting National Park more than 100 kilometers away from the original spill site.

The Marine Protection Agency received notification from the Coast Guard Agency of oil pollution in Kenting National Park Saturday after a large amount of oil was seen in the intertidal zone early in the morning. MPA immediately contacted the Kenting National Park Management Office and CPC to set up a forward command post to coordinate clean up operations.

coast guard oil spill clean up Hengchun Peninsular, Pingtung County.
Coast Guard personnel work on clean-up operations on Hengchun Peninsula June 26, 2021.

The spill from the #2 buoy at the Dalin Refinery is the second instance in less than a year. The Marine Conservation Department said that a similar spill had occurred August 23, 2020. However, a fine was not issued as the spill was cleaned up immediately.

The buoy is one of four offshore unloading points at the facility. At 2:18 am June 22, a section of the pipe broke while unloading oil from the Marshall Islands-flagged NISSOS RHENIA crude oil tanker, causing a spill of around 50,000 liters of crude oil.

Bad weather is considered to be a factor in causing the accident.

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