Amorgos oil spill

The Amorgos oil spill began on 14 January 2001 near Kenting National Park, off the southern coast of Taiwan.

Local Taiwanese residents manually collect fuel oil after the "Amorgos" oil spill incident


On 14 January 2001, the Greek merchant vessel Amorgos, lost power while en route from India to North China.[1] The carrier was transporting approximately 60,000 tons of iron ore and an estimated 1,000 to 1,150[2] tons of fuel oil when the ship suffered engine failure near Kenting National Park, off the southernmost tip of Taiwan. The crew subsequently abandoned the ship, and all 25 crew members were rescued by the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) of Taiwan. Due to deteriorating weather and sea conditions, the hull of the Amorgos split, and oil began to leak from the vessel beginning 18 January 2001.[3]

Spillage and ecological effectsEdit

Approximately 1,300 tons of fuel oil leaked from the Amorgos into the sea surrounding Kenting National Park, causing major damage to the maritime and local environment.[3]

Kenting National Park is an ecological attraction that draws millions of tourists each year due to its warm climate and its many natural phenomena, including limestone caves, monsoon forests and coastal rainforests.[4]

Around 4 to 5 kilometers of the Kenting National Park shoreline was oiled by the spillage, creating a hazardous environment for the 200 bird species and estimated 2,200 plant species within the park.[5] Park officials reported that contaminated coral and dead fish, crabs, shrimp, and clams have washed ashore.[2]

Delayed responseEdit

There were many factors that contributed to the delayed response and subsequent clean-up efforts concerning the Amorgos incident.

The spill took place about two months after the Marine Pollution Control Act (MPCA) of Taiwan was publicized.[3] As a result, the spill occurred during a transitional period in which the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC)[6] and its Salvage Council for Maritime Disasters was delegating its authority to the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA).[3] The jurisdiction among the MOTC, CGA, and the EPA was unclear; therefore, it took longer for the EPA to open an investigation into the spill, allowing more time for the oil to cover a larger area and lay waste to maritime and coastal species.

The second factor was the observance of the Lunar New Year holidays, making it difficult for companies to hire local residents to clean up the mess. After the 5-day holiday, 40 local workers were hired in addition to 8000 soldiers commissioned to take part in the clean-up operations.[3]

The third factor was the severe weather conditions that hampered efforts to clean up the oil.[5] As a result, clean-up was restricted to manual retrieval of oil using buckets, hand nets, and scoops.

Clean-up timelineEdit

Of the 1,300 tons of fuel oil that was spilt, some has been lost due to natural dispersion and evaporation by means of severe weather and rough seas. The oil was later emulsified due to the wave patterns which subsequently increased the area and volume of the spill.[5] Despite these occurrences, most of the oil reached the Lungkeng Ecological Preservation Area within the Kenting National Park.[2]

The affected shoreline consists of fossilized coral and various channels, making access to the oiled areas difficult.[5] As a result, manual collection of oil was the only feasible option. Shoreline clean-up began on 25 January 2010, and lasted until about 14 February 2010, in which an estimated total of 300 tons of oil had been collected.[5]

Lawsuit and settlementEdit

The EPA later sued Assuranceforeningen Gard—the Norwegian insurer of the Amorgos as a result of the damage caused by the oil spill. Instead, the EPA settled with Assuranceforeningen Gard in March 2006, resulting in the ship's owner agreeing to pay a total of NT$34 million (US$1.05 million).[7]


  1. ^ Santer, Richard; Karen Purnell, Chantal Guénette (February 2001). "AMORGOS, Oil Pollution Incident, Lungpan, Taiwan, 14th January 2001". p. 3. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Chung, Lawrence (10 February 2001). "Taiwan races to avert an ecological disaster". The Straits Times (Singapore). Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e Chiau, Wen-Yen (2005). "Changes in the marine pollution management system in response to the Amorgos oil spill in Taiwan". Marine Pollution Bulletin. 51 (8–12): 1041–1047. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2005.02.048. PMID 16291204.
  4. ^ "Purpose". Archived from the original on 15 January 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e Santer, Richard; Karen Purnell, Chantal Guénette (March 2001). "AMORGOS, Oil Pollution Incident, Lungpan, Taiwan, 14th January 2001" (PDF). p. 3. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  6. ^ "About the MOTC". Retrieved 12 January 2014.
  7. ^ Shan, Shelley (13 August 2006). "EPA settles oil spill suit with "Amorgos" insurer". Taipei Times. Retrieved 11 January 2014.

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