Oriental Mindoro oil spill

Philippines finds sunken MT Princess Empress 3 weeks after spill


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Philippines finds sunken MT Princess Empress 3 weeks after spill

FOUND. The MT Empress Princess found in the waters of Naujan, Oriental Mindoro, on March 21, 2023.

Philippine Coast Guard

The discovery of the MT Princess Empress is deemed crucial in stopping the spill

MANILA, Philippines – A leaking fuel tanker that sank off the central Philippines three weeks ago has been found using an underwater robot from Japan, a provincial governor said on Tuesday, March 21, as authorities sought more foreign help to address the oil spill.

Philippines finds sunken MT Princess Empress 3 weeks after spill

The discovery of MT Princess Empress, which was carrying about 800,000 liters (211,338 gallons) of industrial fuel oil when it capsized on February 28 and eventually sank, was deemed crucial in stopping the spill, which reached shorelines in three provinces.

Plugging the leaks and extracting any remaining oil from the tanker was urgent, Oriental Mindoro Governor Humerlito Dolor said in a media briefing.

With the help of a remotely-operated vehicle that arrived on Monday, March 20, from Japan, Dolor shared the first photos of the Philippine-flagged vessel from its exact location. The robot will also help determine the tanker’s condition, he said.

About 36,000 hectares (88,958 acres) of coral reef, mangroves and sea-grass could be affected by the oil slick, according to Filipino marine scientists.

Japan has also sent a team of coast guard personnel to help in the cleanup, according to the Philippines’ disaster agency, while five US coast guard personnel have arrived to help with the spill response, the US embassy said.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will work closely with the Philippines to conduct rapid environmental assessments of affected areas and assess needs for ecosystem restoration, the embassy said.

The Philippines’ environment ministry said it was also in talks with other Southeast Asian countries on further assistance.

Authorities have imposed fishing and swimming bans in affected areas, resulting in disruptions to livelihood of thousands of residents and tourism businesses. – Rappler.com

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