Oil spill may reach Puerto Galera, Batangas: expert


Posted at Mar 14 2023 12:32 PM

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MANILA – The oil spill from the sunken MT Princess Empress off Naujan, Oriental Mindoro may reach parts of Calapan City and tourist destination Puerto Galera within the week, an expert said Tuesday.

“So based on the latest projections of the trajectory of the oil spill, dahil nga sa nabanggit mo kanina na paghina ng amihan, at of course yung prevailing currents…ang parts ng oil slick ay possible na ngayon na umakyat sa northern part ng Oriental Mindoro, so pwedeng pumunta ito sa Puerto Galera, Calapan, and some areas of Batangas,” said University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute Associate Professor Irene Rodriguez.

“So ito po ay posibleng makaapekto na ngayon sa Verde Island Passage… estimated po na March 15 or 16 aabot ito sa coast very close to Puerto Galera and Calapan,” she added.

Rodriguez noted, however, that local government units can still prevent the oil spill from damaging more coastal communities by treating contaminated water near the point source or where the oil is most concentrated. 

She suggested that local officials use in-situ burning, or controlled burning of the oil while it is still the water surface.

“So ang ginagawa po dito, magde-deploy ng fire-proof na mga booms, maghihiwalay ng fraction ng part of the oil, dadalhin ito sa isang safer na lugar, para doon nga ito i-burn,” she explained.

(We can deploy fire-proof booms, this will spearate partsof the oil and bring it to a safer area where it will be burned.)

“Of course meron nitong impacts like production of carbon dioxide and some particulate matter pero ito po ay pwede naman nating mapredict yung direction kung saan ito dadalhin ng hangin, so eto paulit-ulit na gagawin hanggang mabawasan, ma maximize yung pag-remove ng oil from the water surface,” she said.

(Of course it has impacts like the production of carbon dioxide and some particulate matter, but we can predict which direction it will go, so we just have to do it again and again until we have removed as much oil as possible from the water surface.)

Rodriguez also said the Philippine Coast Guard must continue to use its oil booms and skimmers to control the oil spill.

The professor said it will take years to clean up the mess caused by the sunken motor tanker, which was carrying 800,000 liters of industrial oil.

“Under ideal conditions…we’re looking at around 1-3 years na cleanup process,” she said.

Rodriguez also told local government units must not get rid of the oil spill by burying the oil in the sand.

“’Wag po nating gagawin ito kasi tinatago lang natin yung problema. At lalabas at lalabas pa rin yung langis,” she said.

“At ang epekto nito, mararamdaman pa rin natin kahit hindi natin nakikita ng ating mga mata, mararamdaman at mararamdaman pa natin yun sa ating food sources kasi makakaapekto pa rin ito sa kalikasan.”

--TeleRadyo, 14 March 2023