Owner of sunken vessel assures oil spill clean-up equipment, program underway 

THE OWNER of the vessel carrying 800,000 liters of oil that sank off Naujan, Oriental Mindoro assured on Monday that immediate clean-up and long-term response programs are underway, with activities currently focused on    minimizing the impact of the spillage. 

RDC Rield Marine Services, owner of the MT Princess Empress tanker, said it is working with concerned agencies and international experts to make a strategy to ensure most effective operation can be mounted.  

Our primary focus at this stage remains on the oil spill response and we are adopting a phased approach as advised by experts,RDC Vice President for Administration and External Relations Frizie Cabial-Tee said in a statement  

She said the company is conducting emergency measures such as deploying tugs with spill response equipment.  

They have also coordinated with the French waste management company Le Floch Depollution to import needed equipment.  

The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF) and clean-up contractors are developing at-sea and shoreline response plans, Ms. Cabial-Tee said.  

This will lay down details on the techniques, survey process, and objectives needed. 

The IOTF will also lead a series of joint surveys on affected areas for clean-up plans.  

We are working closely with our insurers, and those affected by the spill will be duly advised on how to submit their claims for processing,she said.  

We must, however, emphasize that the immediate priority has to be the coastal clean-up, which directly impacts the lives of the communities who depend on the sea,she added.  

Meanwhile, equipment and gears such as oil blotters, heavy oil absorption masks, working gloves, rubber boots, and protective workwear donated by the Japanese government arrived at the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Mindoro on Monday.   

On Friday, a team of Japanese oil spill control experts arrived in the country to advise on the clean-up operations.   

PCG Spokesperson Armando A. Balilo said in a radio interview that they might request needed equipment after the team is done evaluating oil spill sightings.  

He added that there are ongoing talks with the United States Coast Guard, through the American Embassy, for possible support on necessary assets.  

“What is really needed are remotely operated vehicle, although the company already had discussion with a provider, if our partner countries may also send, it will be greatly appreciated and will be a great (help) to contain the leakage from the tanker,” he said in Filipino.  

The University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute, in its latest bulletin on the spill incident, showed through a trajectory model that the oil slick is threatening to reach the Verde Island Passage by March 16 due to the weakening northeast monsoon.  

The passage is considered a key marine channel having the highest concentration of coastal fishes, corals, crustaceans, mollusks, seagrasses, and mangroves. Sheldeen Joy Talavera