Oil slick just around 2.5 kilometers away from Verde Island – PhilSA

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 28) — Traces of oil from a sunken tanker off Oriental Mindoro are just around 2.5 kilometers away from Verde Island, considered a global center of marine biodiversity, a satellite image from the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) showed.

"Sa ngayon, ang dulo ng oil slick na nakuhanan natin kahapon ay around 2.3 or 2.5 kilometers from Verde Island… Medyo mahaba ito. Pababa pa siya sa ibang parte ng dagat sa baybayin ng Mindoro," PhilSA Disaster, Hazard, and Risk Mapping officer-in-charge Roel dela Cruz said in a press briefing Tuesday.

[Translation: Right now, the end of the oil slick that we captured yesterday is around 2.3 or 2.5 kilometers from Verde Island… It's quite long. It goes down to other parts of the sea off the coast of Mindoro.]

The MT Princess Empress was carrying 900,000 liters of industrial fuel oil when it sank off Naujan town in Oriental Mindoro. PhilSA said the satellite image was taken on March 27.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Batangas station on March 20 said the slick was spotted near Verde Island. Authorities conducted an aerial inspection later in the day and reported that vicinity waters no longer showed traces of oil. https://www.cnnphilippines.com/news/2023/3/20/oil-spill-reaches-Verde-Island.html

Experts have said the slick threatens and endangers the species in the Verde Island Passage. 

While PhilSA is unable to forecast the direction of the oil spill, it said that it could provide satellite images to help other national agencies and local governments with the cleanup and recovery efforts.

"As for DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) and coast guard, knowing the extent, [we] can guide them in recovery efforts, where they can deploy containment boom," PhilSA Senior Science Research Specialist Jamaica Pangasinan said.

"We trust na magagamit yung images natin to guide them kung saan sila mag de-deploy [We trust that our images can be used to guide them where to deploy]," she added.

The agency also said it can train authorities to utilize satellite images in boosting disaster response.

As of March 27, the PCG said offshore cleanup operations have yielded 10,163 liters of oily water mixture and 123 sacks of oil-contaminated materials. For shoreline response, 130 sacks of oil-contaminated materials have been gathered.

READ: MT Princess Empress almost half empty PCG 

CNN Philippines' digital producer Syrah Vivien Inocencio contributed to this story.