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Underwater ROV Operations for Mindoro oil spill 'completed'—PCG

The remote operated vehicles (ROVs) tasked to mitigate the oil leak from the submerged MT Princess Empress off Oriental Mindoro have completed their underwater operations, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Monday.

In a press statement, the PCG said ROV Hakuyo — deployed by the Japanese Dynamic Positioning Vessel (DPV) Shin Nichi Maru — departed Calapan town on April 5, 2023, while ROV MR2 Hydros which was deployed by DPV Pacific Valkyrie left the operations area on April 7, 2023.

This developed after ROV Hakuyo successfully installed specialized bags used to contain the oil spill in eight of the remaining 11 leak sources in a series of operations on April 1, April 3, and April 4.

ROV MR2 Hydros, for its part, helped the Japanese ROV in the bagging operations by conducting an underwater survey, cutting off obstructive railings, and attaching magnetic number markings on the affected tanks.

“One remaining valve producing a slow intermittent release of oil at the 2nd Pressure Valve Portside was not capped due to obstructions that may compromise the ROV operations,” the PCG said.

A survey of the ROV MR2 Hydros on April 6 also found one of the bags containing the oil leaking in the 4th Pressure Relief Valve #2 portside was already saturated, the agency added.

PCG Oriental Mindoro Incident Management Team Commander CG Commodore Geronimo Tuvilla said they would continue their efforts with partner agencies to intensify offshore and shoreline clean-up and assessment to reduce the environmental impact until the source of the spill is permanently addressed.

MT Princess Empress sank on February 28 while carrying 900,000 liters of industrial fuel. All 20 people on board were rescued.

In March, RDC Reield Marine Services, the operating company of the sunken motor tanker, said its consultants advised to do "bagging" which includes the extraction of the fuel using a special bag while patching the holes on the ship to mitigate the massive oil spill.

Several countries including the US, Japan, South Korea, and France extended aid to the Philippines to contain the oil spill.

On Saturday, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said some P441.25 million in income had been lost in 22 fishing days due to the Mindoro oil spill. —VAL, GMA Integrated News