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DENR at work in the response efforts on MT PRINCESS EMPRESS Oil Spill

Oil Spill
Photo courtesy of NAMRIA Deputy Administrator Efren Carandang

BULLETIN #01 | 04 March 2023

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Antonia Loyzaga met with Naujan Mayor Henry Joel Teves and representatives from the Provincial Governor’s Office, Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and the Philippine Coast Guard on March 3 to assess the extent and potential impacts of the oil spill from the sunken MT Princess Empress.

Upon arrival in Manila, Secretary Loyzaga briefed President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on the situation and the plan of action of the DENR Task Force in cooperation with the Philippine Coast Guard and NDRRMC. The President thereafter instructed all pertinent government agencies to mobilize expeditiously.

BRP Hydrographer Ventura of the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA), an attached agency of DENR, departed from Subic at approximately 7:30 am on March 4 and is expected to arrive in the evening. It will use a multibeam survey to locate the sunken vessel.

The DENR is performing disaster forensics in collaboration with the University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) to assess immediate actions to protect mangroves, seagrass, and over 36,000 hectares of coral reefs in Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro and Caluya, Antique that can be potentially affected by the oil slick.

Secretary Loyzaga is in talks with the Secretaries of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to finalize arrangements on the augmentation for the cash-for-work scheme for the clean-up teams in the local communities.

An emergency coordination meeting and briefing was convened by DENR Task Force Commander Undersecretary Marilou Erni which was attended by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Department of Health (DOH). Each agency provided updates on its individual operations on site and the joint efforts on shoreline clean up operations, site assessments, surveillance to determine the exact location of the sunken tanker, and protection of marine ecosystems among others.

DENR Environmental Management Bureau MIMAROPA continues its cleanup operations using locally available oil-absorbent materials. EMB is currently installing provisional spill booms made of cogon and sawali. These barriers are precautionary measures to prevent the oil spill from reaching the beach and mangrove areas of Pola, Oriental Mindoro.

Oil Spill

DENR is coordinating with Semirara Mining and Power Corporation to help and assist in the cleanup operations in Caluya, Antique.

Some members of the DENR Task Force MT Princess Empress, including Task Force Commander Undersecretary Malu Erni and Undersecretary Jonas Leones, will be on site in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro on March 5 to conduct site assessments and craft a localized plan of action for the area. The DENR Biodiversity Management Bureau will conduct a concurrent site assessment of the 53-ha mangrove area in Pola, Oriental Mindoro that may be potentially affected.

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