March 23, 2023
MANILA — At the request of the Philippine government, eight experts from the United States arrived in Pola town in Oriental Mindoro on Tuesday, March 21, to support the oil spill response operations of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), said a statement from the US Embassy in Manila.
“Five members from the US Coast Guard’s (USCG) National Strike Force will provide subject matter expertise and assess the affected areas to determine the most effective method and equipment to contain and clean up the oil spill from the sunken tanker MT Princess Empress,” it said.
“Through funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), two members of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will work closely with the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources to conduct rapid environmental assessments of affected areas, identify priority areas at risk of environmental damage, and assess needs for ecosystem restoration. NOAA has already provided the PCG with satellite imagery to boost assessment efforts,” it added.
The agency also said NOAA provided the University of the Philippines-Marine Sciences Institute support for scientific modeling to estimate the trajectory of the spill that originated in the waters between Naujan and Pola where the sunken tanker was found by a Japanese remotely operated vehicle Tuesday morning, March 21, almost a month since it sank in Feb. 28 with 800,000 liters of industrial oil.
“Lastly, a US Navy supervisor of salvage and diving will evaluate the technical parameters required to support the possible deployment of a remotely operated vehicle,” the statement said.
Prior to their deployment to Pola, the American experts received a briefing on March 20 in Manila from the PCG and the Japan Disaster Relief Expert Team about oil spill mitigation actions taken so far.
“When vessels are in deep water, as in this case, cleaning up the remaining oil becomes a complicated issue. Through our incident management professionals’ wealth of experience and strong expertise in oil spill response, we will assist the PCG in developing safe and efficient methods to contain and recover the oil and minimize damage to the environment,” said Commander Stacey Crecy, commanding officer of the USCG Pacific Strike Team, in a statement.
Earlier this month, USAID partnered with the World Food Program to support the Department of Social Welfare and Development in transporting 20,000 food packs for families affected by the oil spill.