Leak from sunken oil tanker seen to continue until end-March - DENR

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 14) -- Oil leakage from the sunken tanker in Oriental Mindoro is expected to continue until the end of March, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said Tuesday.

As of March 10, DENR Secretary Antonia Loyzaga told a Senate hearing that oil from the ship is leaking at a rate of 35,000 to 50,000 liters per day.

Based on their assessment on the surface, she said it will take from 15 to 20 days before the oil from MT Princess Empress runs out, citing a report from the University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI).

"Unfortunately, our assumption is that we will not be able to stop the seepage so we will act as if we are on a worst case scenario," Loyzaga said in the hearing.

"How it (oil spill) will reach the different municipalities depends on the winds and the current, so we will have to rely on the model that they (UP-MSI) are actually running," she added.

On Sunday, the UP-MSI said the spill may reach the environmentally critical Verde Island Passage due to the weakening northeast monsoon or amihan.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday said he hoped it would take no longer than four months to clean up the Oriental Mindoro oil spill.

The environment secretary said the latest projection was also given to Marcos.

READ: Marcos wants oil spill cleanup finished in under 4 months

Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard said it needs from ₱2.5 to ₱3 million per day to be able to operate its equipment for oil spill cleanup operations.

Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Climate, earlier revealed during the hearing that MT Princess Empress lacked a permit to operate.

READ: Ship that caused Mindoro oil spill has no permit to operate MARINA

RDC Reield Marine Services, which owns the oil tanker, insisted that they had a valid Certificate of Public Convenience filed as early as Nov. 16, 2022.

Oriental Mindoro Gov. Humerlito Dolor said 20,465 families or more than 102,000 individuals in his province were directly affected by the oil spill.