DENR Statement No. 4: March 3, 2023

DENR Secretary Antonia Loyzaga led the aerial surveillance and site assessment of the oil spill in Oriental Mindoro accompanied by Undersecretary for Integrated Environmental Science Carlos Primo David, Dr. Fernando Siringan of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI), and members of the DENR Oil Spill Task Force on March 3, 2023.

Initial findings estimate the length of the oil slick to be 25 Km trending NE-SW and most of the oil is confined in a narrow band of approximately 300-500 meters. The potential for the oil to reach northern Palawan was also discussed.

Naujan Oil Spill

The DENR Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) developed a potential impact map based on the last known location of MT Princess Empress, which is within the vicinity of the Verde Island Passage, the globally recognized center of the center of marine shorefish biodiversity.

Findings showed that within the 40-kilometer radius, approximately 591 hectares of coral reefs, 1,626 hectares of mangroves and 362 hectares of seagrass/seaweeds can be potentially affected. There are also 21 locally managed marine protected areas (LMMPAs) located in the city of Calapan (4), towns of Naujan (3), Pola (7), Pinamalayan (4), and Gloria (2) in Oriental Mindoro Province and the town of Gasan (1) in Marinduque Province. The coastal areas of the municipality of Pola are observed the most affected as of today.

Naujan Oil Spill

The DENR is performing disaster forensics in collaboration with UP-MSI to assess what immediate actions need to be taken. The MT Princess Empress must be immediately located to project future flow of oil and potentially impacted areas. The National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA), an attached agency under the DENR, will deploy two ships (BRP Hydrographer Ventura and BRP Hydrographer Presbitero) for multibeam survey in order to locate the sunken vessel.

Since the incident, the DENR has been actively engaging different sectors to aid in the response efforts. It committed to work with coastal communities to prevent the landing of oil through the deployment of available absorbent materials. The DENR also recommends close coordination with the Department of Health (DOH) to deploy health workers to monitor and address possible health impacts on the community. It also proposes for affected LGUs to consider instituting a cash-for-work program for the coastal cleanup, as a short-term intervention to provide temporary employment.

Naujan Oil Spill

Private sector companies, including Shell, Petron, and Prime Energy, have also reached out to the DENR to offer their expertise to the response efforts.

Secretary Loyzaga reiterated that what is important is to locate the vessel and model the potential flow of oil in order to implement the most effective mitigation strategies so that disruption to livelihood can be minimized and the affected ecosystems can be regenerated.

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