The provincial government of Oriental Mindoro is now looking at drafting a recovery plan after the sunken M/T Princess Empress has been located off the waters of Naujan town.
During a press briefing on Wednesday, Oriental Mindoro Governor Humerlito Dolor thanked the government agencies involved in the clean-up operation of the spilled oil, as he invited other stakeholders and agencies who are willing to help.
“The provincial government is finalizing the recovery plan. Sana yung mga ahensya na willing tumulong para sa recovery plan, gawin natin ito, hindi enough na magpakain tayo ng dalawang buwan (I hope those agencies who are willing to help for the recovery plan, let us do this, it is not enough to feed the affected people for two months), People must have a life after the oil spill,” Dolor said.
Through the remotely operated vehicle (ROV), Dolor said experts have identified 23 leaking areas from the M/T Princess Empress.
He also said that the sunken ship has extensive structural damage due to the pressure while sinking, and the front portion is the most heavily damaged part of the ship.
“As of the moment, may 23 na leaking areas, kaya lang dun sa nagli-leak na yan wala ng nanggagaling sa krudo na kinukunsumo sa pagbiyahe, so ang assumption, yung laman, yung mga naunang lumabas, ito yung laman nung tangke na ginagamit dun sa transportation, ito yung transportation diesel nila. Ngayon ang nag li-leak nandito na sa 8 tanker (there are 23 leaking areas, but from these, nothing comes from the crude oil being consumed for its travel, so the assumption, the first leakage came from the tank containing the oil used for the voyage, this is the marine transportation diesel. Now the leak is coming from the eight tankers),” he said.
The ship contains eight tankers carrying 800,000 liters of industrial oil.
He also clarified that the oil that leaked is not asphalt but rather heavy oil.
Dolor said that among the plans suggested for containing the leak include bagging, patching the leak, and hot tapping and pumping.
Meanwhile, he thanked all the government agencies which he said, did not leave since Day One of the oil spill incident.
These include the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Philippine National Police, and the Philippine Army.
He also thanked the US and the Japanese governments for sending assistance.
While the problem on the oil spill is ongoing, Dolor shared that he was at least enlightened from the captured underwater video of signs of marine life.
“Para naman sa akin, ako’y natutuwa naman kanina dahil buhay yung mga isda na nasa area, buhay yung hipon, so it means there’s life (For me, I was happy to see earlier that the fish around the area are alive, the shrimps, it means there is life),” he said.
Meanwhile, the PCG reported oil leaks coming from all eight compartments of the tanker.
In an update, the PCG shared the findings of the team aboard the Japanese Dynamic Positioning Vessel (DPV) Shin Nichi Maru that conducted Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) operations to assess the condition of MT Princess Empress.
The team found that the tanker suffered extensive structural damage and oil stains were found on some parts of the vessel.
“Oil leaks had been observed from all eight compartments (tanks), and some through the ballast tank,” the PCG said.
Aside from the tanks, oil was also found to be leaking from the ship’s access hatches, cargo tank pressure valves, and cargo pipework on the ship’s deck, including valves.
“No. 4 Port Pressure Valve has the highest flow rate,” it said.
However, there were no visible fuel leaks from the damaged vessel’s fuel and service tanks.
“Volume of remaining oil inside the compartments cannot be estimated at this point. The oil spillage rate from the source is likewise yet to be determined,” it said.
The next operational phase of the cleanup, it said, will include oil patching, bagging and removal, with the insurance representative of RDC Reield Marine Services (RDC) — the owner of MT Princess Empress — already in search of a service provider for the mission.
This service provider, it said, would be responsible for tasks such as bagging and patching leaks, “hot tapping and pumping,” and must have equipment designed to operate at depths of 395 meters and beyond.
“Coordination has been established for the deployment of a Singapore-based provider. All possibilities are being explored including the tapping of RP-based firms,” it said.
During a meeting with the PCG, Dolor proposed that the Japanese salvage vessel be required to stay on until new equipment arrives.
The PCG is also considering the offer of the US Coast Guard for an ROV equipment deployable by air.
It assured the public that they are doing their best to prevent further environmental damage and to hold the responsible parties accountable for the oil spill incident. (PNA)
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