[Updated] Taiwan: Ship Broken Up, Spilling Oil

TS Taipai

Published Mar 27, 2016 6:46 PM by The Maritime Executive

The container ship grounded off New Taipei City in Taiwan has broken in two and has been leaking oil into the sea since Friday.

The T.S. Lines 15,487-ton ship, TS Taipei, ran aground in a storm about 300 metres from the shore while it was sailing from Hong Kong to Keelung Port in Taiwan on March 10.

All 21 crew members were evacuated safely, but a helicopter crashed during the subsequent clean-up operation has killing two and seriously injured another.

Stormy weather has hampered efforts to remove fuel from the vessel which contains around 240 tons fuel oil and 35 tons of lube oil.

Officials were able to board the ship on Sunday as weather improved. Taiwanese cabinet spokesman Sun Lih-chyun said that the operation to drain fuel from the ship would be dangerous as the ship could capsize at any time.

Sun said that experts from the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF) had been at the site, and Resolve Marine and Nippon Salvage are on site ready to help with salvage operations.

T.S. Lines had originally estimated that it would take seven days to remove the fuel and lube, but Premier Simon Chang demanded the work schedule to be shortened. The company has now indicated five days is possible as weather conditions improve.

Taiwan’s EPA Minister Wei Kuo-yen said the country is using radar, satellite and unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor the ship and oil spill.

Some of the vessel’s 600 shipping containers have fallen overboard, and Indonesia authorities report that the containers contain 20 tons of potassium perchlorate, 18.2 tons of toluene, 19.5 tons of fats, 8.5 tonnes of corrosive liquids and six tons of flammable lubricants and 11 tons of paint.

The wreck is near a fishing port, and over 100 people are working to contain the spill. Heavy oil from the ship has already polluted a stretch of about two kilometers along the northeastern shore of the Shihmen area.