The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Monday expressed confidence it could finish siphoning the oil from a sunken tanker off Naujan town in Oriental Mindoro within the four-month timetable.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) recommended keeping the fishing ban in three towns in Oriental Mindoro still affected by the oil slicks.
The DA-BFAR also said it is planning to provide more than P117.86 million worth of emergency and relief assistance, early recovery efforts, and mid-to-long-term recovery aid for the affected communities.
According to the PCG, it might take two or more weeks in June to accomplish their mission.
“Tingin namin kakayanin itong deadline na four months… Pero sIyempre depende sa panahon. Depende sa kung gaano kabilis yung operations na magagawa,” PCG spokesman Rear Admiral Armand Balilo said.
The Dynamic Support Vessel (DSV) “Fire Opal” from Singapore to be used in extracting the industrial fuel from the sunken M/T Princess Empress was scheduled to arrive in Oriental Mindoro on Monday.
The oil spill has stretched over a six-kilometer expanse of sea water.
It was estimated that some 100,000 to 120,000 liters each may still be in one or two containers of the tanker.
In a statement, BFAR said the fishing ban should be maintained in the towns of Pola, Pinamalayan, and Naujan, citing the risk of contamination due to the lingering oil traces.
“The latest analyses of the DA-BFAR showed that traces of oil and grease in water samples slightly increased in all sampling sites in comparison to the baseline data, but these were still within the standard limit of <3.0 mg/L for Class SC waters or those suited for boating and fishing activities, as well as fish propagation intended for commercial and sustenance purposes,” the BFAR said.
“Meanwhile, the trend indicated that the PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) amount present in seafood from Oriental Mindoro had stabilized to much lower concentrations,” the agency added.
Calapan City, along with the towns of Bansud, and Gloria have been declared safe for fishing activities, as well as the coastal communities of Bongabong, Bulalacao, Mansalay, Roxas, Baco, Puerto Galera, and San Teodoro, according to DA-BFAR.
Of the planned assistance fund, P12 million was earmarked for fuel assistance to affected fisherfolk in MIMAROPA, P4.4 million was disbursed for post-harvest training for various village associations and cooperatives, and over P1.5 million was utilized for food assistance to more than 5,000 families in the region.
The Tanker Princess Empress was carrying 900,000 liters of industrial fuel oil when it capsized off Pola and Naujan towns due to strong waves on February 28. It caused a massive oil spill that affected at least four provinces and around 30,000 families