Oil spill reaches Tablas Strait, Tayabas Bay

Rainier Allan Ronda - The Philippine Star
Oil spill reaches Tablas Strait, Tayabas Bay
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources shared aerial photos of the oil spill caused by sunken motor tanker MT Princess Empress in the coastal areas of Naujan, Pola and Pinamalayan, Mindoro on March 3, 2023.
Facebook / Department of Environment and Natural Resources

MANILA, Philippines — The oil spill from the sunken M/T Princess Empress continues to spread and has reached Tablas Strait and Tayabas Bay.

The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) said satellite images taken on March 31 and April 2 showed that the oil slick has reached the northern part of Tablas Strait, which separates Mindoro island from Panay and Romblon.

PhilSA said the oil spill also reached the northern part of Tayabas Bay, which stretches from San Juan, Batangas to several areas in Quezon province.

“The combined stretch is 36.5 kilometers and covers a total area of approximately 18.9 square kilometers,” PhilSA said.

PhilSA had earlier said a satellite image provided by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on April 2  shows that the oil spill threatens Coron in Palawan.

PhilSA said the NOAA map shows that “possible oil from Princess Empress continues to extend.”

“The slicks located south and southwest of the tanker measure approximately 10.5 nautical miles in length and 1.8 nautical miles in width,” PhilSA said.

The satellite maps  are still subject to field validation, it said.

Meanwhile, a dynamic positioning vessel (DPV), Pacific Valkyrie, which is equipped with a remotely operated underwater vehicle, Hydros, arrived in Calapan on Sunday to help mitigate oil release from the sunken tanker, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said.

The PCG said Hydros is a 2,000-pound vehicle designed to meet rapid deployable salvage requirements to a maximum depth of 5,000 feet.

“Immediately after boarding formalities, the DPV proceeded to the oil spill site in the vicinity of the waters off Naujan to start its operations,” the PCG said.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla assured the public that cases would be filed against the owner of Princess Empress.

Remulla yesterday led the Oil Spill Inter Agency Committee meeting at the Department of Justice office during which a representative from the Maritime Industry Authority said it has found probable cause to file an administrative case against RDC Reield Marine Services. — Robertzon Ramirez, Marc Jayson Cayabyab

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