CLEANING operations started Wednesday afternoon for the oil spill from a marine vessel that encountered engine trouble off Naujan, Oriental Mindoro in central Philippines on Tuesday, according to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
The “MTUG TITAN has started spraying oil dispersants in the area,” the PCG said in posts on its social media pages.
It also reported that it has located the possible source of the oil spill at 7.4 nautical miles southwest off Balingawan Point in Naujan, and water samples were being collected for assessment and planning for further response operations.
The PCG said the shipping company that owns the MT Princess Empress, which already completely sank Wednesday, has already contracted a towage service provider that also has oil spill response equipment.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), meanwhile, said it has coordinated with the local government of Naujan and the Coast Guard.
“We are monitoring the site in relation to the potential marine biodiversity impacts and the possible risk to lives and livelihoods in the area due to the direction of the current and distance from the shoreline which may be affected,” the DENR said in a statement late Tuesday.
The PCG earlier rescued the 20 crew members of the vessel.
Meanwhile, Protect VIP Network — a coalition of environmentalists, local communities and fisherfolk advocating for the preservation of the Verde Island Passage — said the government must act quickly to minimize the damage.
According to the group, more than two million Filipinos depend on the biodiversity and resources from the Verde Island Passage.
“We are concerned that fishing activities will be restricted if the spill is not addressed soon. Potential fish kills due to the oil spill may cause lesser fish stock out of the already dwindling fish catch,” said Protect VIP Convenor Edwin A. Gariquez in a statement. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera