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‘Oil spill recovery completed but containment continues’

The extraction of the remaining oil from the sunken MT Princess Empress in Oriental Mindoro has been completed – two days ahead of the June 19 target date – but containment efforts will continue, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported on Saturday.

About 95 percent of the affected shorelines are now clean and only “very minimal traces” of oil are left in the vessel, PCG spokesperson Rear Admiral Armand Balilo said.

“The eight tanks are now empty with minimal pipe drips, which can no longer be recovered through siphoning,” he said, adding that two salvage vessels would remain in the area.

Balilo said the operation is not yet over.

“There’s still much more to do,” he said, referring to the oil containment operation. “We will make an evaluation this week to make sure that the affected shorelines have been cleaned.”

The M/T Princess Empress was reportedly carrying about 800,000 liters of industrial fuel oil when it encountered engine trouble on Feb. 28, leading to its sinking off the waters of Naujan, Oriental Mindoro.

Siphoning operations began on May 29 with the help of a Dynamic Support Vessel (DSV) Fire Opal chartered by Malayan Towage and Salvage Corp. (MTSC).

As of the June 14 report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, a total of 24,698 fishers from Calabarzon, Mimaropa, and Western Visayas have been affected.

The oil spill cost them an estimated P4.99 billion in foregone production revenues.

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