Government expects US Coast Guard, Air Force assets to help in Mindoro Oil Spill



The United States Coast Guard and some of its air assets will arrive in the Philippines to help in the ongoing clean up operations on the massive oil spill in Mindoro, Department of National Defense Senior Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

In his report, Galvez told President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. that they will be expecting in the following days the arrival in the country of the entire US Coast Guard and another C-5, the US Air Force’s largest and strategic airlifter.

“We are looking forward to the arrival of the entire US Coast Guard contingent for the additional technical support in our disaster response operations. Although, one US C-17 with equipment (60K loader) already arrived this morning and is now at Subic Air Base. Another C-5 is expected to arrive tomorrow,” the Defense chief said.

Galvez, who is also chair of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), along with the Office of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Undersecretary Ariel Nepomuceno and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) chief Admiral Artemio Abu and other Armed Forces and local government officials, conducted an aerial inspection of the affected areas of the oil spill early Sunday morning.

“We will immediately employ these assets and integrate in our response operations. In addition, we continue to closely monitor the ROV’s (remotely-operated vehicle) operations for significant updates and to further determine the extent of the oil spill,” Galvez pointed out.

Galvez also noted that the presence of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has greatly helped in the clean-up operations by providing rapid environmental assessments of the affected areas, identification of priority areas at risk of environmental damage, and assessment of the needs for ecosystem restoration.

“They (NOAA) provide support for scientific modeling to estimate the trajectory of the oil spill and satellite imagery to boost assessment efforts,” Galvez said.

The DND senior official also reported that the Japanese ROV found out that the oil tanker, MT Princess Empress, “suffered extensive structural damage after sinking.”

“At this point, no visible consumption fuel leak coming from the damaged vessel. Oil leaks had been observed from all 8 compartments (tanks). Some through ballast tanks. Volume of remaining oil inside the compartments cannot be estimated at this point. Oil spillage rate from the source is likewise yet to be determined,” Galvez said, quoting the findings of the Japanese team.

Galvez also noted that the situation in the areas in Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) and Western Visayas regions affected by the oil spill “is a lot better and very encouraging than I imagined.”

“Our response efforts, particularly the actions of the various government agencies, are present and very effective with the collaboration of all stakeholders, not to mention the assistance of our allies and other partner countries,” Galvez said.

To date, the Marcos administration and non-government organizations have already extended more than Php95 million worth of assistance to the residents in the areas affected by the oil spill.

Meanwhile, a total of 10,206 liters of oil waste and oily water, and 72,643 kilos of oil contaminated debris were collected in the shoreline clean-up operations, according to Galvez.

Catherine R. Cueto

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