EPA seeks heavier penalties for marine pollution after oil spill

Taipei--The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) will propose a draft law amendment to increase the maximum fine for marine pollution from NT$1.5 million (US$48,523) to NT$300 million, an EPA official said Monday.

The EPA is drafting an amendment to the Marine Pollution Control Act and setting up standards and guidelines for imposing penalties based on the size of ships and the financial conditions of ship owners in violation of the law, said Yeh Chun-hung (???), director of the EPA's Department of Water Quality.

The draft amendment will also contain a clause encouraging people to report infractions and offering rewards for tip-offs, Yeh said.

He made the remarks after government officials received a report on March 10 of an oil spill near Green Island that spread about 7.1 kilometers along the island's northern coast.

The most heavily polluted waters stretched 600 meters from the island's lighthouse in the northwest, through Jhongliao Harbor to Sleeping Beauty Rock, the Coast Guard Administration's Green Island Inspection Office chief Hsiao Su-ping (???) said, adding that the seabed around the island was also affected by the oil.

It was the first time the sea bed near Green Island had been polluted by oil, according to experts.

The oil might have come from a cruise, cargo or other large ship, which might have dumped the oil in the high seas, from where it washed ashore, according to Hsiao.

A task force subsequently started clean-up work on the site and the work was ongoing Monday. It was estimated that it will take three to four days to remove the onshore oil, and seven to complete the cleanup.

Considering that this is the worst ecological disaster in 50 years faced by Green Island -- a major tourist destination -- while the existing regulations stipulate fines of only NT$300,000 to NT$1.5 million per day for violations, the EPA is therefore seeking an amendment to the law to make punishments more severe by increasing the maximum fine to NT$300 million, according to Yeh.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel