Abandoned ship leaking fuel may soon sink out of sight

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 October, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 October, 2008, 12:00am

A half-sunken ship leaking oil is still 'undergoing repairs' in the Hei Ling Chau typhoon shelter and may soon be completely submerged.

The Sunday Morning Post reported two weeks ago that the 51.2-metre fuel-transport ship, Gulf 16, had been abandoned in the typhoon shelter. The rusting 30-year-old hulk has decayed to the extent that it has been leaking fuel on to the shore.

A Marine Department spokesman had said it found the oil slick on September 16, but a fisherman living in Peng Chau told the Post that the sinking ship had been there for more than two months.

After the Post's story was published, a department pollution- control unit visited the site and the oil was found near the vessel.

The department said booms had been put around the vessel to confine the leak. It had also taken steps to prevent the ship from sinking further.

However, Torben Kristensen, a boat owner who lives in Discovery Bay and who passed the Hei Ling Chau typhoon shelter on Wednesday, said the mess was no better.

'When compared with what you saw earlier, those holes leaking oil are totally submerged now,' he said. 'The ship is now leaning to one side ... Oil keeps on leaking. The marine police saw this and they do nothing. This cannot continue.'

He said the ship had been there for two years, not since February 26, as the Marine Department has said.

Department records show the vessel has had permission to be 'laid up', or undergo repairs, in the area since February 26.

It said a spill contractor made daily visits to the shelter to clean up oil within the booms. A removal notice has been issued to the owner urging that the situation be rectified as soon as possible. The department will not reveal who the owner is.

The department would not comment on whether it could remove the ship if the owner took no action.