News Releases

(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) responded to reports that a Taiwanese shipping company that regularly calls on Washington ports is being investigated by state and federal authorities for allegedly bypassing pollution control equipment to allow oil to be dumped into the marine environment.

Murray wrote to the chairman of Evergreen Container Lines to demand that the company fully comply with all marine pollution laws and with ongoing investigations.

"My constituents and I demand that the shipping community respect our environment. The shipping industry can and will flourish in the Pacific Northwest without resorting to cutting corners and poisoning our waters," Murray wrote in a letter today to Mr. Owen Wu, chairman of Evergreen American Corporation.

In March 2001, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Washington State Department of Ecology discovered a "mystery spill" of roughly 500 gallons of fuel oil in the Columbia River near Kalama, Washington. The agencies took samples of the spilled oil and later matched the samples to fuel carried by the Evergreen container vessel EVER GROUP. The investigation that followed has so far found three Evergreen vessels equipped with pipes that could have been used to discharge oil directly into the marine environment rather than through mandated pollution control equipment. Currently, all Evergreen vessels are being inspected by the United States Coast Guard, and an investigation is underway.

Evergreen container ships call on the Port of Portland approximately 50 times each year and call on the Port of Tacoma approximately 100 times each year. Murray serves as the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Related Agencies, which funds all activities of the United States Coast Guard.

"I commend the Coast Guard and the Washington State Department of Ecology for their diligent work to protect our environment," Murray said.

Murray has a long history in the Senate of protecting Washington's marine resources. In 1998, along with Representative Jack Metcalf, she created the Northwest Straits Commission, a locally driven process for protecting the fragile ecosystems of northern Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.