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Australia arrests Yang Ming boxship over pollution debt of $13m

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has arrested a Yang Ming boxship on Sunday over a pollution incident in 2018, as the authority demands the shipowner to pay a pollution debt of up to AUD20m ($13.4m).

Australia’s Federal Court Admiralty Marshall impounded the 2009-built, 4,250-teu YM Eternity at Port Botany after AMSA petitioned the court to recover an outstanding pollution debt.

YM Eternity is the sister ship of YM Efficiency, which lost 81 containers off the coast of Newcastle and Port Stephens back in June 2018.

AMSA said the Taiwanese shipowner 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.

In December 2019, AMSA signed a contract with Ardent Oceania to begin the clean-up operation for those 60 containers. The contract is valued at about AUD15m. Work will begin in March 2020 and is expected to be completed within a month.

The estimated cost to locate and clean-up the remaining missing 16 containers is up to a further AUD5m, bringing Yang Ming’s debt to AUD20m.

“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,” said Mick Kinley, ceo of AMSA.

The seized YM Eternity had also been 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.

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