The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Wednesday (1 March) confirmed the presence and possible source of the oil spill at the vicinity waters 7.4 nautical miles southwest off Balingawan Point, Naujan, Oriental Mindoro, at around 3pm today.
On 28 February, PCG said it deployed BRP Melchora Aquino and one airbus helicopter to respond to a maritime incident involving a half-submerged motor tanker, MT PRINCESS EMPRESS, in the vicinity waters off Balingawan Point.
PCG described the oil as “black and thick with strong odour” and said MTUG TITAN, a tugboat carrying oil spill recovery equipment, has started spraying oil dispersants in the area.
At around 3:27pm, its patrol vessel BRP Melchora Aquino launched its rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) to gather water samples.
The Marine Environmental Protection Unit (MEPU) has observed a black and thick oil on the collected water samples.
MT PRINCESS EMPRESS departed from Bataan en route to Iloilo with 20 crew members (including the master) and approximately 800,000 liters of industrial fuel oil on board.
Initial investigation revealed that the distressed motor tanker encountered engine trouble due to overheating. It then drifted towards the vicinity waters off Balingawan Point due to rough sea conditions until it became half-submerged.
The PCG has deployed BRP Melchora Aquino and the Coast Guard District Southern Tagalog to provide necessary assistance and assess the vicinity waters for possible traces of an oil spill.
The PCG Command Center has also directed the Coast Guard Aviation Force to dispatch one airbus helicopter for aerial surveillance.
Meanwhile, a foreign vessel, MV EFES, successfully rescued the 20 crew members in good physical condition.
Photo credit: Philippine Coast Guard
Published: 2 March
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