Metro Manila, Philippines— Cleaning up the oil spill from the motor tanker that sank in the waters off Oriental Mindoro would likely take more than a month, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said on Tuesday.
PCG Commandant Admiral Artemio Abu cited the lack of manpower and equipment as the main challenges in cleanup operations.
“Let us be honest and candid about it. One month time? Hindi ganun kadali ‘yan [It’s not that easy],” Abu said.
Authorities are rushing to contain the oil spill from the sunken MT Princess Empress, as they warn of its impact on the environment and on the health of residents in Oriental Mindoro and nearby areas.
The Department of Health (DOH) earlier said toxic chemicals from the spill can cause skin and lung complications, aside from nausea, vomiting, and upset stomach.
In a briefing also on Tuesday, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the agency received reports of some residents along the shoreline experiencing headache and nausea.
She noted these are short-term symptoms, which disappear a few hours after the patients receive medical help.
“Isa lang ang na-admit, ‘yun ngang nagkaroon ng aggravation ng kanyang hika. Other than that, wala pa naman tayong naitatala na na-admit sa ospital,” Vergeire said.
[Translation: Only one has been admitted to the hospital – a resident whose asthma worsened. Other than that, we have so far not recorded any more hospital admissions.]
MT Princess Empress was transporting 800,000 liters of industrial oil when it capsized and sank last Feb. 28 near Naujan town.
On Monday, authorities said they detected the possible site of the vessel northeast of Pola town. According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the tanker is believed to have moved southeast from its last known position where it completely submerged.
The DENR said officials will still have to verify the exact location of the vessel through the deployment of a remotely operated vehicle.