Marine experts from the University of the Philippines-Diliman College of Science Marine Science Institute (UPD-CS MSI), the University of the Philippines-Visayas (UPV), Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is moving to quickly address the effects of the oil spill off Naujan, Occidental Mindoro, in the wake of the sinking of the tanker MT Princess Empress last February 28.
According to the MSI’s Bulletin #01, issued on March 3, the oil has already reportedly reached the shores of the coastal towns of Naujan, Pola, and Pinamalayan. The Bulletin also warned that the oil may reach the southern tip of Mindoro in only a matter of days, hastened by the effects of the prevailing wind.
Over 24,000 hectares of coral reef—an area one and a half times the size of Quezon City—may be in danger from the oil spill. This potentially affected area spans from Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro, all the way to San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.
The agencies are already looking into possible measures to address the spread of the oil, which is exacerbated by prevailing strong winds and waves. The PCG is also working to identify the kind of oil that was on the ship, which will impact the extent of the spill and the possible measures that can be undertaken.
A multi-agency team, including representatives from the MSI, has been mobilized to assess and assist on-site. The experts are also considering hydrodynamic modeling to help forecast where the oil might reach given current weather conditions.