MANILA — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said Monday that it “may have detected” the possible site where the sunken MT Princess Empress is located.
In a new bulletin, the agency said that the vessel which caused an oil spill in the area is in northeast of Pola in Oriental Mindoro and is about 1,200 feet or 400 meters below sea level.
"As we mobilized the BRP Hydrographer Ventura on March 2, they prepared for the mission and prepared the vessel on March 3. By March 4, they had deployed to the site. Due to rough seas, they only arrived at the site early morning of March 5," DENR said in an update.
"We are pleased to report that through the efforts of BRP Hydrographer Ventura, we may have detected the possible site where the vessel is actually located. That site is about 1,200 feet or approximately 400 meters below sea level," it added.
DENR noted that the development is subject to verification and they are working on mechanisms to confirm the vessel's location.
"It is located about Northeast of Pola, Oriental Mindoro but it is believed to have moved Southeast from its last known position where it completely submerged," the agency said.
"This will, however, require verification which will be in the form of deployment of a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) which will allow us complete visualization should the currents and weather permit. We are now preparing to access an ROV in order to fully determine where the vessel actually is and to completely model the way the oil will be spilling from the vessel," it added.
DENR said they have three parallel workstreams in response to the oil spill such as:
1. Disaster forensics in cooperation with NAMRIA as an attached agency of the DENR and the University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI), in support of the Philippine Coast Guard.
2. Clean up, mitigation, and remediation which involves a multi-agency effort including national government agencies such as DSWD, DOLE, DILG, and DOH because this involves the protection of communities and ecosystems.
3. Actual protection activities that we need to undertake. These habitats, ecosystems, and the communities themselves require anticipatory action, protection, and regeneration where possible. We are working with the local communities, UP-MSI, academe, and civil society.
The agency is closely coordinating with other agencies and local government units to monitor the situation.
"The DENR is here to assist in any way that we can. We have been receiving offers of service, goods, and technical expertise and we thank the private sector especially those that have recently come forward. We are very grateful to all those who have expressed their willingness to assist in this effort."
The Philippine Coast Guard earlier confirmed that the oil spill from the sunken oil tanker in Oriental Mindoro has reached Caluya, Antique.
They residents from four municipalities in Oriental Mindoro to avoid fishing activities due to possible oil hazards.
Marine experts have said that more than 36,000 hectares of coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass may be affected by the oil spill.
They are also recommending to warn coastal communities—especially those on the eastern and southern sides of Oriental Mindoro, including Caluya Island (Northwestern Antique), and potentially Cuyo Island of Palawan—to prepare for the possibility that the oil spill could reach their shores.
Oriental Mindoro, Mindoro, oil spill, DOTr, DENR, Oriental Mindoro oil spill, Philippine Coast Guard, PCG, MT Princess Empress