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Oil spill boom installed in suspected location of sunken MT Princess Empress in Oriental Mindoro — PCG

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Wednesday said an oil spill boom has been installed in the suspected location of sunken motor tanker Princess Empress in the vicinity waters off Naujan, Oriental Mindoro.

“Nakapaglagay na ng oil spill boom doon sa suspected location ng vessel (Oil spill boom was already placed in the suspected location of the vessel),” PCG spokesperson Rear Admiral Armand Balilo told reporters in a message.

In a Facebook post, the PCG posted a video of the installation of the oil spill boom for the containment and recovery operations in Naujan waters.

MT Princess Empress was carrying 800,000 liters of industrial fuel oil when it sank due to strong waves on February 28. All the 20 people on board were rescued.

According to the PCG, the motor tanker sank 400 meters into the ocean, which was too deep for divers to reach.

More people getting sick

Meanwhile, in an interview on super radyo dzBB, Pola, Oriental Mindoro Mayor Jennifer Cruz said 23 individuals have been hospitalized after experiencing respiratory illness due to the oil spill.

"Padagdag po nang padagdag dahil po syempre habang tumatagal po, mas nalalanghap 'yung amoy,” she said.

(More people [are getting sick] because of the toxic smell.)

Cruz noted that eleven barangays in Pola are affected, and it will take a long time to clean up the traces of the oil spill, especially in the mangroves.

"6 months to 1 year 'yung linis alone, pero 'yung bakawan po natin, mahihirapan na pong tanggalin,” she said.

(It may take 6 months to 1 year. But for the mangroves, it may already be too late.)

Meanwhile, personnel from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) have also arrived to assist the local government unit (LGU), according to Mark Salazar’s report on “24 Oras”.

Currently, the coastal clean-up continues in Pola and Sitio Sabang in Caluya, Antique.

Residents and other volunteers are also helping to collect the oiled debris.

To prevent a similar incident in the future, Negros Occidental Third District Representative Kiko Benitez filed a bill to strengthen the regulation on ships that will also help protect marine resources.

Possible location

On Monday, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said they have detected the possible location of the motor tanker northeast of Pola town.

“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.

For verification, a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) will be deployed for a complete visualization, it added.

“We are now preparing to access an ROV in order to fully determine where the vessel actually is and to completely model the way the oil will be spilling from the vessel,” the DENR said. 

On Monday, Oriental Mindoro’s Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) passed a resolution declaring a state of calamity in coastal barangays of affected towns, the provincial government’s public information office said.

The resolution said there are 77 coastal barangays in affected towns Naujan, Pola, Pinamalayan, Gloria, Bansud, Bongabong, Roxas, Mansalay at Bulalacao.

So far, a total of 48,885 people or 10,362 families were affected by the oil spill.

On Tuesday, the Department of Health said some residents have reported headaches and dizziness, and asthma following the oil spill—Sherylin Untalan/ RSJ/ VAL, GMA Integrated News