Palace assures overall oil spill cleanup done by June

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

May 27, 2023, 2:41 pm

<p><em>(PNA file photo)</em></p>

(PNA file photo)

MANILA – The last phase of the oil spill cleanup in Oriental Mindoro will be completed within a month, Malacañang announced on Saturday.

Communication Secretary Cheloy Garafil made the assurance after the arrival of a dynamic support vessel (DSV), which will be used to siphon the remnants of the 800,000 liters of industrial fuel oil from the sunken MT Princess Empress at the Riviera Pier in Subic Bay Freeport Zone on Friday.

The DSV Fire Opal, Garafil said, would finish the last phase of the cleanup, and the operations may take 20 to 30 days.

"The DSV Fire Opal, which arrived at the Riviera Pier in Subic Bay Freeport Zone last Friday, will extract and transfer oily waste to a tanker, then dispose of the collected oil. Officials said the siphoning operations may last up to 30 days," Garafil said.

The vessel will sail from Subic on the night of May 28 and is expected to arrive in Batangas the following day.

It will then proceed to the designated mission area, she added.

Citing the report from Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Commandant Admiral Artemio Abu, Garafil said the extraction would be done in 20 to 30 days.

The operations will last a month, if weather conditions are "favorable," she said, based on a separate report submitted by Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Administrator Ariel Nepomuceno.

The DSV was chartered by the Malayan Towage and Salvage Corp. and contracted by the Protection and Indemnity Insurance Club (P&I).

In March, Marcos expressed hope that the cleanup would be done in less than four months.

As of May 10, about 84 percent, or 62.95 km. of the 74.71-km. shoreline affected by the oil spill in Oriental Mindoro province, have been cleaned up, according to a report transmitted to Marcos by Department of National Defense chief Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier this month.

The OCD recorded a total of 6,801 liters of oil waste and 300,603.60 liters of oil-contaminated waste that have been collected through the efforts of various agencies and organizations, according to Galvez's report.

In March, the Japanese salvage vessel Shin Nichi Maru, a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV), arrived at the port of Calapan in Oriental Mindoro and was immediately deployed to the mission area to help in the cleanup efforts.

The MT Princess Empress was reported to contain about 800,000 liters of industrial fuel oil when it ran aground in the waters off Naujan, Oriental Mindoro on Feb. 28 due to engine trouble. It sank the following day.

The Marcos administration has provided PHP516,873,483 worth of early recovery assistance to about 96,256 residents affected by the oil spill. (PNA)