Australian authorities have arrested a Panamax containership owned by Taiwan’s Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp. for a pollution debt that could reach as high as AUD 20 million (USD 13.4 million).
On February 9, the Federal Court Admiralty Marshall arrested the Liberia-flagged YM Eternity at Port Botany after the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) petitioned the court to recover the outstanding debt.
The 4,250 TEU YM Eternity is a sister ship of the YM Efficiency, which lost 81 shipping containers off the coast of Newcastle and Port Stephens in June 2018.
According to AMSA, 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. 60 containers have been identified, five containers have been recovered while a further 16 are still missing.
In December 2019, AMSA signed an AUD 15 million contract with Ardent Oceania to begin the clean-up operation for those 60 containers. To begin in March 2020, work is expected to be completed within a month.
AMSA Chief Executive Officer Mick Kinley pointed out that the arrest of YM Eternity shows that AMSA “will not allow international shipping companies to pollute our waters 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,” Kinley said.
The anticipated cost to locate and clean-up the remaining missing 16 containers is up to a further AUD 5 million, bringing Yang Ming’s debt to AUD 20 million.
The YM Eternity was also detained by AMSA in July 2019 in Sydney for the same systemic failure to safely stow and secure cargo that led to the YM Efficiency container spill.