FSMIS (January 22, 2014): The Pohnpei State and Federated States of Micronesia Joint Taskforce on Ping Da 7, the grounded Chinese fishing vessel on the Nankapenparam Reef in Pohnpei, has stepped up its activities tremendously the past few days given the lack of response from the owner of the vessel.
Based on the Taskforce decisions made at its January 18 meeting, the sixteen Ping Da 7 crew members were brought to shore yesterday to be assisted with visa application processing to expedite their return home.
The Taskforce members generally recognized the need to expedite repatriation of the crew members, all of whom have expressed the desire to return to China. The vessel owner, Jianghai Ping, who has liability for the wrecked vessel and all damages to persons, property and the environment under international and national laws, is in full agreement with the decision to allow the crew members to leave the ship where it is currently grounded.
As of yesterday, there have been reports of oil leak from the vessel. State officials from the Attorney General's Office, Environmental Protection Agency, Disaster Control Office, Marine Resources, Public Safety as well as officials from the FSM Maritime Police and Quarantine Section have gone to the ship since the leak report was made.
Responding to the latest situation, Pohnpei State Governor John Ehsa issued a Declaration of Emergency this morning.
This morning, a joint team of experts with assistance from a local company was deployed to detail leak points on the ship and determine possible ways to contain the oil spill from spreading. As this initial operation is mobilized, the State and National legal entities are also tasked to make yet another contact with the ship owner and the insurance assessors today as they have legal liabilities in the entire situation.
As of this morning, the Taskforce is moving on obtaining assistance from a company in Majuro and a local company for a possible team-up to get the vessel off the reef and take care of the oil-spill problem.
Based on previous salvage operation experience back in 2011, the Taskforce may be able to obtain service of other salvage companies within the region, including Australia, should that be necessary.
The FSM Office of Environment and Emergency Management was also at the command post to be able to mobilize response in conjunction with EPA and the Pohnpei State Disaster Office.
The ship owner has not been responsive to contacts made by the Taskforce as he had indicated no intention to take full responsibility in salvaging the boat, much less collaborating in undertaking preventive measures against environmental harm.
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