The Chinese cargo ship that ran aground near Discovery Bay Marina during Typhoon Hato is gradually being raised from the seabed by salvage workers.
The Yu Hai 1 has been partially submerged since the hurricane-strength storm, leaving local residents concerned about the environmental impact the 31-year-old vessel is having, as reports of oil and other fluids leaking into the sea have circulated over the past month and a half.
In a statement to Around DB and Life on Lantau, the Marine Department said, “The owner of the vessel “Yu Hai 1″ appointed its Protection and Indemnity Club (P&I Club) to arrange the salvage of the wreck. [The] Marine Department has all along been liaising with the Hong Kong representative of the P&I Club about the detailed arrangement of the salvage operation to minimize the impact to local marine traffic and [the] environment. The P&I Club has also been instructed to speed up the salvage operation and to take measures to prevent oil spill and pollution.”
“A few oil sheens were found near the vessel some time ago. The contractor of the P&I Club has deployed a launch on scene to combat any oil sheens found within the oil booms around the vessel. The Department will closely monitor the situation and keep liaising the stakeholders to facilitate the salvage operation.”
Islands District Councillor Amy Yung said that the first stage of the salvage process was to mend any holes so that water could be pumped from the boat. Once fully floated, it will be towed away. The current rise in the stern of the ship could be one step closer to achieving this.
Following the incident, environmental campaigners have renewed calls for the government to change the way in which pollution incidents are handled. Currently, if an incident occurs, the owner of the protection and indemnity insurance is responsible for finding a contractor and negotiating the terms and costs of the operation, rather than the government.
Image: Caroline Clery