Home / Philippine News / PBBM looks at faster cleanup of oil spill, Japan sends expert help

PBBM looks at faster cleanup of oil spill, Japan sends expert help

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday said the government is looking to clean up the oil spill from a sunken tanker in Oriental Mindoro waters in less than four months.

CONTAINMENT MEASURE. Coast Guard personnel deploy an oil spill boom off Naujan in Oriental Mindoro to contain the leaking industrial fuel from a sunken tanker. 

Japan has also committed to send experts to help stop the further spread of oil from the sunken tanker MT Princess Empress, President Marcos said.

“This is a big help so that we can contain the oil and prevent it from reaching land. The oil reached some coastal areas before we found the vessel,” he said.

The target is based on how the government cleaned up the 2006 Guimaras oil spill in four months, Mr. Marcos said in an interview on the sidelines of an event in Quezon City.

“If it’s not possible in one month, hopefully it will be less than the four months it took to clean up the Guimaras oil spill. If we can’t do it in a month, perhaps it will not take four months.” he said.

In 2006, some 2 million liters of bunker fuel from sunken Motor tanker Solar I off the coast of Guimaras island created widespread devastation to marine and ecological life in the Panay Gulf and it took the government years to completely address the damage.

The Oriental Mindoro oil spill, which happened in late February, involved a tanker carrying some 800,000 liters of industrial fuel. Spillage from the vessel has affected 10 municipalities in Oriental

Mindoro and could possibly reach other coastal islands including Palawan, Antique and Romblon.

Fishers who were temporarily banned from sailing into affected waters were tapped to help the government in cleanup efforts, Marcos said.

“Fishermen cannot sail off the affected waters so they have no livelihood. We tapped them to clean up under the cash for work program. We will create a cleanup program for all areas, especially fishing sanctuaries and tourist areas, so that residents can get work,” he said.

The Philippine Coast Guard has installed an oil spill boom around the suspected wreckage of the sunken MT Princess Empire tanker to contain the oil spill.

The PCG posted a video of its team installing the boom in the waters off Naujan in its official Facebook page.

Pola town Mayor Jennifer Cruz, meanwhile, estimated that it would take six months to a year to clean up the oil spill in her area.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Naujan, Gloria, Pinamalayan, Pola, Bansud, Roxas, Mansalay, Bongabong, and Bulalacao have officially declared a state of calamity due to the oil spill.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said it has pinpointed the possible spot where the sunken tanker is located.

“That site is about 1,200 feet approximately 400 meters below sea level. It is located about Northeast of Pola, Oriental Mindoro but it is believed to have moved southeast from its last known position where it completely submerged,” it said.

The local government of Malay town in Aklan—home to the popular tourist island of Boracay–is already preparing for the possibility of the oil spill in Oriental Mindoro will reach its shores, Gov. Jose Enrique Miraflores.

He said the local government is in close coordination with the PCG, which has given them spill booms that can be deployed.

Senator Francis Tolentino, meanwhile, demanded from maritime authorities a report on the seaworthiness of the four ships that figured in accidents since February.

On Feb. 22, the state weather bureau advised fishing boats and small sea vessels not to venture out to sea, and larger sea vessels were alerted against big waves.

Due to this, he asked why MT Princess Empress was allowed to sail.

“Now that it can no longer be prevented, the oil spill caused by the sinking of MT Princess Empress will devastate our marine ecosystem,” Tolentino said.

He also said there were enough laws to deal with the threat of oil spills, but the implementation has been spotty.

In the House, Negros Occidental Rep. Kiko Benitez filed a bill that will strengthen regulation of ships to prevent prevent oil spills.

CONTAINMENT MEASURE. Photo shows Coast Guard personnel and volunteers collecting debris covered in oil in neighboring municipality Pola. 

House Bill 7515 provides for the strict enforcement of the regulations under the 1973 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, and its 1978 Protocol, or MARPOL 73/78, which the country signed in 2001.

“We signed MARPOL 73/78 in 2001. An implementing legislation is long overdue. We must keep our commitment to international law, and perform our responsibility to protect the environment,” Benitez said.

“We cannot let another oil spill happen again. Its damage to the marine environment is just too much. It is impossible to express the negative impact to livelihoods and marine ecosystems in monetary terms,” Benitez said.


Credit belongs to : www.manilastandard.net

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