Efforts to clean up the massive oil spill in Mindoro are now on its final phase with the arrival of a special vessel designed to siphon off the remaining industrial fuel from a sunken tanker off Naujan and Pola towns in Oriental Mindoro, the National Task Force on Oil Spill Management said on Thursday.
The task force said the dynamic support vessel “Fire Opal” arrived in Oriental Mindoro from Singapore on May 28.
It said the vessel will be used for oil extraction operations, transferring the remaining fuel to another tanker preparatory to final disposition.
The entire siphoning operations may take 20 to 30 days, the task force said.
A conference to formulate rehabilitation and recovery plans will also be held under the stewardship of the National Economic and Development Authority.
During the meeting presided by Office of Civil Defense administrator Undersecretary Ariel Nepomuceno and attended by representatives of various task force agencies, the Philippine Coast Guard reported that out of the 79.33 kilometers (kms), 83.74 percent of affected coastlines consisting of 66.433 kms. had been declared oil slick-free with only 12.89 kms. remaining for cleanup.
The ongoing cleanup operations have so far collected 44,656.30 liters of oily water mixture, 10,708 sacks, 997 drums, 119 pails, and 648 1-tonner bags of oil contaminated sand/debris and oily waste from Calabarzon, Mimaropa and Region 6.
Meanwhile, the task force also scheduled the conduct of a scientificconference that will be joined by various scientific agencies,academic institutions, relevant government departments, localgovernment units and other stakeholder organizations this June.
The conference aims to facilitate the conduct of a post disaster needsassessment (PDNA) to determine the effects and impacts of the oilspill incident on the affected areas, including general long-termimpacts on agriculture (fisheries), the marine environment, tourismand livelihood, among others.
“In line with the President’s guidance for a whole-of-nation approachin dealing with the consequences of disasters, we are undertaking thismulti-sector scientific conference so that the pool of expertise onthis subject matter can be tapped to ensure that our way forward inrehabilitation and recovery are effective and would be truly helpfulto the affected communities in terms of economy, the environment andsustainability,” Nepomuceno said.
“We are looking forward to the conclusion of the siphoning operationsfor this will herald the conduct of the scientific conference. Theconference will jumpstart the conduct of the PDNA and recoveryplanning by recommending valuation methods of affected environmentalassets. The outputs of the conference will serve as the basis for theformulation of a comprehensive rehabilitation and recovery plan forthe affected areas,” said Assistant Secretary Bernardo RafaelitoAlejandro IV, OCD administrator for operations.
Also, the Department of Social Welfare and Development reported theprovision of more than PHP611 million worth of assistance in the formof family food packs, nonfood items, emergency cash transfers, andcash-for-work to the affected communities.
The total assistance provided by all relevant agencies amounted tomore than P476 million.
The oil spill has left P58,137,124 worth of damages and losses tofisheries, affected more than 27, 500 fisherfolk, and caused 15 localgovernment units to declare a state of calamity.
More than 42,400 families had been affected coming from the 107affected areas in Oriental Mindoro, Palawan, Antique and Batangas.