Oil Spills Pose Environmental Threat After Typhoon

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.

oil spill from grounded fishing vessels in Kaohsiung
Oil is seen spilling from vessels that ran aground in Kaohsiung when Typhoon Meranti swept through the port city September 14, 2016

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.

A freighter aground on Kinmen Island
A freighter run aground on the main island in Kinmen County is seen leaking oil into the water. Photo: Senpo Tung
oil on a beach in Kinmen
Oil is seen washed up on a beach in Kinmen after a freighter ran aground in strong winds generated by Typhoon Meranti September 15, 2016. Photo: LTN
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