MANILA, Philippines – Authorities are now on high alert for an oil spill as a ship carrying 800,000 liters of industrial oil sank off the coast of Naujan, Oriental Mindoro, on February 28.
The Philippine Coast Guard reported that MT Princess Empress sank two days later (PCG). It was going from Limay, Bataan, to Iloilo when heavy waves near Tablas Island struck it.
According to the PCG and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the oil leak has affected the municipalities of Oriental Mindoro, including Mansalay, Pola, Pinamalayan, Gloria, Bansud, Bongabong, Roxas, and Naujan.
More than 4,000 people who were living along the beach in Pola, one of Oriental Mindoro’s three worst-hit municipalities, had to move to safer areas as a result of the foul odor the oil leak had caused.
The DENR said the oil spill was 25 kilometers long from northeast to southwest, with most of the oil in a narrow band between 300 and 500 meters wide. In addition, the possibility of the oil reaching northern Palawan has been considered.
They immediately set up Task Force Naujan Oil Spill, led by Marilou Erni, the corporate ground response coordinator during the Guimaras oil spill in 2006.
The agency recently observed that the oil leak in the seas of Oriental Mindoro has spread around 25 kilometers, with 591 hectares of coral reefs, 1,626 hectares of mangroves, and 362 hectares of seagrass and seaweeds that might be damaged.
Oil spills can also harm marine life, making consuming seafood dangerous.