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Yang Ming vessel arrested in Sydney for pollution debt

The sister ship of the YM Efficiency, which lost 81 shipping containers off the coast of Newcastle and Port Stephens in June 2018, has been arrested in Sydney on 9 February for a pollution debt that could be as high as US$13.4 million, according to Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

At 06:50 (AEDT) on Sunday (9 Feb) the Federal Court Admiralty Marshall arrested the YM Eternity at Port Botany after AMSA petitioned the court to recover the outstanding debt.

Both vessels,  YM Eternity and YM Efficiency, are owned by a subsidiary of Taiwanese shipping company, Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp.

AMSA says that Yang Ming has refused to pay for the clean-up of the remaining pollution including the containers and their contents which have been located on the seafloor off the coast of Newcastle. Sixty containers have been identified, five containers have been recovered while a further 16 are still missing, adds AMSA.

In December 2019, the AMSA signed a contract with Ardent Oceania, to begin the clean-up operation for those 60 containers, said an AMSA statement. AMSA says that the contract is valued at about US$10 million and the work will begin in March 2020 and is expected to be completed within a month.

AMSA Chief Executive Officer, Mick Kinley, said the arrest of YM Eternity shows that AMSA will not allow international shipping companies to pollute waters in Australia without consequence.

“If you pollute our waters and refuse to pay the price of cleaning up that pollution, we will hold you accountable. Our ocean won’t pay the price of Yang Ming’s pollution – Yang Ming will,” Mr Kinley said.

The anticipated cost to locate and clean-up the remaining missing 16 containers is up to a further US$5 million, bringing Yang Ming’s debt to US$20 million, AMSA states.

AMSA notes that the YM Eternity was also detained by AMSA on 12 July 2019 in Sydney for the same systemic failure to safely stow and secure cargo that led to the YM Efficiency container spill.

At the time of publication Yang Ming had not responded to a Container News request for a comment.

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