EPA probes Green Island oil dumping incident

The Cabinet-level Environmental Protection Administration recently dispatched a team to Western Australia to investigate an oil dumping incident that took place near Green Island off southern Taiwan's Taitung County, the EPA announced April 5.

Accompanied by officials from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, a four-member team from Taiwan traveled April 4 to the Australian town of Esperance to inspect a vessel that may have been involved in the incident. Thus far, no evidence has emerged from the inspection proving the vessel's involvement; however, a chemical analysis comparing oil on the ship to the oil found around Green Island has yet to be carried out.

The chemical analysis is expected to take around 10-14 working days, said Chen Chun-rong, section chief of the EPA's Department of Water Quality Protection.

According to EPA Minister Lee Ying-yuan, the cross-border collaborative effort demonstrates Taiwan's determination in protecting the marine ecosystem.

On March 10, the EPA received reports regarding a large quantity of oil in the waters off Green Island. According to the Cabinet-level Coast Guard Administration, a trail of oil measuring roughly 10 kilometers was spotted off the island's northern coast.

Taking into account wind direction and ocean currents, the EPA utilized satellite imagery and the Automatic Identification System, which tracks the locations of oceangoing vessels, to isolate ships that might have illegally dumped waste oil into Taiwan's waters.

Administration officials quickly identified a Cyprus-registered ship as a possible culprit. After confirming that the vessel was moored at a port in Australia, the ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs negotiated with the Australian government for permission to secure any potential evidence.

Cleanup operations around Green Island were completed March 24 at an estimated cost of approximately NT$2 million (US$65,309), the administration said.

Green Island is home to a diverse marine ecosystem including coral reefs, which support abundant ocean life and a thriving scuba diving industry. According to the East Coast National Scenic Area Administration, the island attracts more than 300,000 tourists each year.

Source: Taiwan Today