Japanese experts arrive to help in oil spill containment


Posted at Mar 12 2023 02:16 PM | Updated as of Mar 12 2023 04:12 PM

(UPDATED) Japanese Coast Guard members have arrived in Pola, Oriental Mindoro Sunday to help contain and clean up an oil spill almost 2 weeks after a tanker sank.

Nihei Daisuke of the Japanese Embassy Minister for Economic Affairs said the 2 teams of 11 experts are coordinating with the Philippine Coast Guard for a site visit and assessment of barangays affected by the oil spill on Monday.

"We are joining the Philippine authorities, especially Philippine Coast Guard to combat this oil spill incident," Daisuke said.

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Presidential Adviser on Legislative Affairs Mark Llandor Mendoza has also arrived in Pola, bringing relief goods and food packs from the PCG Auxiliary and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for distribution. 

"Initially, nagpadala po ang Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary ng around 2,700 na food packs at 'yon naman po ay nakipag-coordinate tayo kay [Secretary] Rex Gatchalian ng DSWD na nagbigay po ng 2,000 food packs for today," Mendoza said.

"Anytime, parating na rin po 'yong 550 sacks ng coir pit at 550 coco logs para masuportahan 'yong clean up sa oil spill," he added.

The Philippines earlier sought help from Japan and the United States to help contain the oil spill.

The Princess Empress was carrying 800,000 liters (210,000 gallons) of industrial fuel oil when it went down in rough seas off the central island of Mindoro, south of the capital Manila.

The vessel is believed to be about 400 meters (1,300 feet) below the waves, but Philippine authorities have said the country does not have the capability to reach the wreckage and remove the oil.

Diesel fuel and thick oil from the tanker have contaminated the waters and beaches of nine municipalities along the coast of Oriental Mindoro province, known for its rich marine life.

More than 2,500 hectares (6,200 acres) of coral reefs, mangroves and seaweed could be affected by the spill, the environment ministry said previously.

It is not known how much diesel and oil have leaked into the water. 

The Philippine Coast Guard said Friday it had found oil as far away as Casian Island, off the north coast of the western island of Palawan.

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That is about 350 kilometers (220 miles) southwest of where the tanker sank.

Dozens of people have fallen ill in Oriental Mindoro after oil washed up on their shores, the provincial government said earlier this week.

Residents and coast guard personnel have been removing oil-coated seaweed and other debris from affected beaches. 

An oil spill boom was deployed on Wednesday after rough seas hampered earlier efforts to contain the slick

Thousands of fishermen have been ordered to stay on shore until they can fish safely, and swimming is also banned.

-- With reports by Noel Alamar and Agence France-Presse


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