Philippines beefs up efforts to contain oil leak from sunken tanker

Volunteers wearing private protecting gear clear up the oil spill from the sunken gasoline tanker MT Princess Empress, on the shore of Pola, in Oriental Mindoro province, Philippines, March 7, 2023. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

 Philippine authorities have elevated efforts to include an oil spill from a sunken gasoline tanker that has affected coastal cities and was nonetheless spreading, the surroundings ministry mentioned on Tuesday, because the nation grapples with cleanup challenges.

Improvised spill booms constituted of cogon grass and coconut supplies had been serving to to limit oil leaking from MT Princess Empress, the Philippine-flagged tanker that encountered engine bother in tough seas on Feb. 28 earlier than it went down off central Oriental Mindoro province, the ministry mentioned in an announcement.

The vessel was carrying about 800,000 liters (211,338 gallons) of commercial gasoline oil when it sank, in accordance with the coast guard.

“The usage of improvised spill booms is a possible precautionary measure to forestall harm to marine environments,” it mentioned, including that the supplies are readily accessible to communities in danger.

Marine scientists on the College of the Philippines have warned that the oil spill might additionally hit the Verde Island Passage, a physique of water between Batangas and Mindoro provinces south of Manila, which they mentioned has the best focus of marine biodiversity on the planet.

The spill might additionally attain the northern a part of Palawan island, house to a number of the nation’s white-sand seashores.

Resorts in Oriental Mindoro, additionally identified for world-class seashores and dive spots, have already been reeling from the impression of the oil spill, as vacationers cancel reservations throughout what is meant to be peak season.

READ: Oil spill hits tourism in Oriental Mindoro

A Philippine senate panel on Tuesday opened an inquiry into the incident, with legislators demanding the tanker proprietor, RDC Reield Marine Companies Inc, to take part within the cleanup drive and lengthen speedy monetary assist to affected communities.

Additionally they raised considerations about whether or not the tanker proprietor might file insurance coverage claims regardless of questions in regards to the ship’s allow to function.

—Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz, Modifying by Louise Heavens