EPA wants to make marine pollution fines 200 times higher


CNA

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) issued an advance notification Tuesday for a draft amendment to the Marine Pollution Control Act that will increase the maximum fine for marine pollution from NT$1.5 million (US$50,100) to NT$300 million.

The EPA is drafting the amendment after it carried out reviews of several ocean pollution cases, including the illegal dumping of oil in waters near Green Island off the coast of Taitung County early this year and an oil spill caused by the grounding of a container ship off New Taipei in March last year, said Yeh Chun-hung (葉俊宏), chief of the EPA’s Department of Water Quality.

Considering that the ship captains or owners in these incidents failed to adopt contingency measures to prevent or reduce pollution, the EPA is seeking to make punishments more severe by increasing the fines, which currently range from NT$300,000-NT$1.5 million, to NT$300,000-NT$60 million for those in violation of the regulations, Yeh said, adding that serious violations could lead to owners having their shipping rights revoked.

However, intentional discharge of waste oil into the ocean could bring sentences of 1-7 years in prison and a fine of up to NT$300 million according to Yeh.

In addition, the EPA will set up an ocean pollution prevention and control fund and plans to collect fees from ships importing heavy crude oil that dock in Taiwanese harbors.

According to the EPA, an estimated NT$300 million per year is expected to be collected for marine environmental protection and research.

After issuing the advance notification, the EPA will hold public hearings on the proposed draft amendment and aims to send it to the Legislative Yuan for review during the next plenary session.