TAIPEI, Taiwan - An underground oil pipeline ruptured suddenly yesterday morning in New Taipei's Xizhi District, causing a leak that seeped 70 meters and injured several passing motorcyclists. Company officials, while maintaining that further investigations would be made, stated that a 5.9 magnitude earthquake that hit the eastern portion of the island at 5.09 a.m. may have caused the rupture.
The tremor registered a magnitude 1 in New Taipei.
The pipe, which transports refined oil from Taoyuan City toward a supply area in New Taipei's Shimen District ruptured near Zhongxing Road (Lane 70), sending 200 degree Celsius oil flowing 70 meters, injuring some passing motorcyclists who slipped off their bikes.
Authorities cordoned off the section to traffic, resulting in massive jams to surrounding roads during morning rush hour. Complete repairs to the pipe fracture of 20 meters could take three days.
Although workers managed to apply chemical solutions to stop the spread of the oil leak, portions of the leak are feared to have already entered into the Keelung River.
State-owned oil company CPC Corporation head Lin Sheng-chung said that underground pipes were regularly maintained or replaced every five years.
Lin promised lawmakers that a complete inspection of underground pipes would be completed within a month.