Dismantling of North Korean freighter begins

Kyodo

The Ibaraki Prefectural Government on Tuesday began dismantling a North Korean freighter stranded since December off the port of Hitachi.

“We have decided to remove it, taking into consideration that fuel may spill again and affect fisheries and swimming in the summer,” Ibaraki Gov. Masaru Hashimoto said earlier in the day.

The prefecture hopes to finish the work this year.

The 3,144-ton Chil Song, which ran aground, broke into two parts in March. Fuel began spilling out of the vessel the following month, reaching beaches in the prefecture.

Ibaraki plans to first remove the ship’s remaining fuel and break the vessel into pieces before clearing it from the site.

The work will cost about 200 million yen, half of which will come from subsidies from the central government and some other grants.

The prefecture has already spent more than 400 million yen in trying to remove the freighter and collect spilled fuel, but the central government will only cover about 250 million yen of that amount.

The Chil Song left Kinuura port in Aichi Prefecture last Nov. 28 with 1,200 tons of tire chips, intended for fuel consumption in North Korea, and arrived at Hitachi port Dec. 4.

In late December, the Mito Summary Court imposed a 300,000 yen fine on the freighter’s captain, Kim Jae Fu, over the ship running aground on the port’s breakwater on Dec. 4 after he failed to ensure the anchor was holding.