Contain oil spill in Oriental Mindoro before amihan season ends – marine experts

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 19) — Marine experts have urged authorities to contain the oil spill in Oriental Mindoro before the amihan season ends as the northeast monsoon has helped control the slick.

"The amihan winds, which contained most of the oil to the coasts of Nauhan and Pola in the previous weeks, are now more variable, allowing the oil to spread northwards," the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UPMSI) explained in a bulletin released Saturday.

"It is critical to stop the seepage before the end of the amihan season, otherwise more critical biodiversity areas along the Verde Island Passage may be affected," it added.

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The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration noted in its advisories that the amihan season is expected to end in mid-March.

MT Princess Empress was carrying 800,000 liters of industrial oil when it capsized and sank in waters off Balingawan Point in Naujan town, Oriental Mindoro on Feb. 28.

The UPMSI said oil spill trajectories showed a northward shift, warning that more slick will reach the shores of Calapan City on March 22.

"Westward currents along the coast of northern Mindoro towards the Verde Island Passage are forecasted to be more pronounced for this period," it added.

The Philippine Coast Guard and local disaster management personnel on Thursday confirmed the sighting of slicks along Calapan shores. But local authorities decided not to implement a fishing ban in the city as the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources said there was no indication that the fish in the area were affected by the oil spill.

Latest data from disaster management officials showed 32,269 families, or 149,503 individuals, in Mimaropa and Western Visayas have been affected by the oil spill.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council on Sunday said 189 residents got sick because of the oil spill. They experienced dizziness, chest pain, and abdominal pain.