The DENR continues its interventions as we mobilized on February 28 which is Day 0 of the MT Princess Empress Oil Spill.
By March 1, we had already contacted Governor Bonz Dolor to coordinate with response teams in Oriental Mindoro and Manila. By March 2, we had already mobilized the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) BRP Hydrographer Ventura to determine the location of the sunken vessel.
The DENR has three parallel workstreams in response to the oil spill:
1. Disaster forensics in cooperation with NAMRIA as an attached agency of the DENR and the University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI), in support of the Philippine Coast Guard.
2. Clean up, mitigation, and remediation which involves a multi-agency effort including national government agencies such as DSWD, DOLE, DILG, and DOH because this involves the protection of communities and ecosystems.
3. Actual protection activities that we need to undertake. These habitats, ecosystems, and the communities themselves require anticipatory action, protection, and regeneration where possible. We are working with the local communities, UP-MSI, academe, and civil society.
These are the current developments:
As we mobilized the BRP Hydrographer Ventura on March 2, they prepared for the mission and prepared the vessel on March 3. By March 4, they had deployed to the site. Due to rough seas, they only arrived at the site early morning of March 5.
We are pleased to report that through the efforts of BRP Hydrographer Ventura, we may have detected the possible site where the vessel is actually located. That site is about 1,200 feet or approximately 400 meters below sea level. It is located about Northeast of Pola, Oriental Mindoro but it is believed to have moved Southeast from its last known position where it completely submerged. This will, however, require verification which will be in the form of deployment of a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) which will allow us complete visualization should the currents and weather permit. We are now preparing to access an ROV in order to fully determine where the vessel actually is and to completely model the way the oil will be spilling from the vessel.
We reported this to the President immediately as soon as the analysis was released yesterday evening and we have been given approval to share this with the general public.
We are closely coordinating with local government officials and with UP-MSI on the possible use of this information in the modeling for the spread of the oil. We look forward to seeing an updated model from UP-MSI and to share that with the general public but most of all, with the local governments and the communities that will be affected.
The DENR continues to be in close touch with local communities though our CENROs and PENROs, and our operations teams that are on the ground now in Mindoro Oriental and Antique.
We have been closely coordinating with the different departments and we are grateful for the efforts of DSWD, DOLE, DOT, DOH, DA-BFAR, and DND-OCD. We look forward to continuing to support the efforts of the Philippine Coast Guard since they are the lead in this particular effort.
The DENR is here to assist in any way that we can. We have been receiving offers of service, goods, and technical expertise and we thank the private sector especially those that have recently come forward. Those that have offered support include the different energy companies, Shell, Prime Energy, and Petron, as well as First Gen, and the Ayala Group. We are very grateful to all those who have expressed their willingness to assist in this effort.
The DENR will continue to deliver updates as developments happen. ###
- Published: 14 March 2023