No danger of oil spill, for now: Coast Guard-A A +A
Thursday, March 14, 2013
THE Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) assured that there is no imminent threat of an oil spill from a barge that capsized off a private wharf in Barangay Looc, Mandaue City last Monday night.
PCG Cebu Station Commander Weniel Azcuna said mv Maria Angelica Grace carried 8,000 liters of oil but this is confined in its tank.
“There is no immediate threat to the environment right now because the fuel is trapped inside the ship,” Azcuna said in a phone interview.
The Coast Guard has put oil spill booms around the vessel, whose hull remains visible above the water off Cabahug Wharf, in case the fuel leaks.
EMB 7 Director Fernando Quililan said in a report to EMB Director Juan Miguel Cuña that spill booms will confine oil that may leak out of the vessel operated by Manila-based Repal Inter-Island Shipping Lines.
Azcuna said he told the ship owner in a letter to immediately remove the fuel and retrieve the ship.
As of yesterday, the Coast Guard’s Oil Response Team siphoned off 160 liters of oil from the ship’s vicinity.
The Mandaue City Council yesterday adopted a resolution requesting the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to check the cargo vessel and detect any presence of oil spill.
An EMB 7 team, led by engineer Annabeth Roble, inspected the vessel last Tuesday.
Roble said the team took a sample of the oil from the vessel for evidence but another sampling will be made once the barge is taken out of the water.
Azcuna said Salvador Repal, the shipping line’s owner, has asked three firms capable of salvaging the vessel to submit quotations or cost estimates.
The cost will be shouldered by the shipping firm’s insurance company, who sent a representative to assess the vessel’s damage.
“We are not setting any deadline but we are constantly pressuring the owner to remove the vessel as soon as possible,” said Azcuna.
The 416-gross-ton ship was loading cargo at the Cabahug Wharf around 9:45 p.m. last Monday when it lost its balance because of the waves caused by a passing fast craft.
The ship, which was loaded with rice and sugar, was supposed to leave for Masbate Province at 11 p.m.
All 18 crew members managed to evacuate before the ship capsized.
The PCG will investigate whether the ship owner and the crew can be held liable, but Azcuna said the investigation will follow after the retrieval of the fuel and the vessel.
“We are in the process of conducting an investigation but our primary concern is the removal of the fuel,” he said.
Depending on the result of their investigation, Azcuna said the Coast Guard can recommend for the revocation of the vessel’s franchise by the Maritime Industry Authority.
They can also recommend for the revocation of the crew’s licenses by the Professional Regulatory Commission.
Roble said ship captain Wilson Dieta recounted that the vessel was tilted while a van was unloading cargo on the vessel, shortly before the incident.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 14, 2013.