Oil spill traces from Mindoro, where the Princess Empress tanker sank, were spotted on the coast of Casian Island in Taytay on Friday, prompting residents and local government officials to scramble to prepare for the potential repercussions of the tragedy.
The oil spill was originally expected to hit the coastlines of the Calamianes group of islands as early as March 7, according to the projection of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UPMSI). However, island residents and members of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) first observed them on Casian on March 10.
The Municipal Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) of Taytay said that an emergency operations center (EOC) was set up as early as Tuesday, upon learning of the UPMSI’ estimates.
It added that the EOC has already sent personnel from the Coast Guard Sub Station (CGSS) Taytay to Casian to verify the oil spill traces and assist the community on what to do.
The MDRRMO El Nido, on the other hand, has requested donations of discarded garments, blankets, plastic bottles, and hair fibers from barbershops to be used in making oil slick traps.
“Sa kasalukuyan po ay mayroon ng sightings ang mga karatig na munisipyo,” it said in a post.
It has also coordinated with the town’s eastern barangays in preparation for the oil spill’s repercussions.
On March 10, the town of Roxas called an emergency meeting at which Provincial DRRMO chief Jeremias Alili was present to provide updates on the potential scenario of the oil spill reaching its shores.
It has requested that the coastal communities prepare oil spill booms and liners as a protective barrier against the possibility of contamination.
The island municipality of Linapacan also established a Task Force Oil Spill to monitor the existence of leaks in its waters.
According to Mayor Emil Neri, special attention was paid to the barangays nearest to Casian Island: Nangalao, Cabunlawan, and Pical.
“24/7 itong magmomonitor sa buong isla natin, magko-coordinate sa mga kapitan natin kung posible o may makitang oil spill sa area para agad ma-validate ng task force natin sakali. [Pero] sana talaga wala,” said Neri.
Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) District Palawan commander Capt. Dennis Rem Labay earlier aired the possibility that the oil spill traces came from the submerged tanker MT Princess Empress off Naujan, Oriental Mindoro.
“I think sa layo nya na around 300 kms from where the tanker sank in Mindoro and for the past 10 days there is a big possibility na galing nga doon,” he said.