One month after the Princess Empress sank, the spilt oil is still spreading, and authorities have warned that 40% of its cargo has yet to leak into the seas near Mindoro Island.
The tanker was hit by a storm, lost power, and sank on February 28th, carrying over 800,000 litres of industrial fuel oil. At a depth of nearly 400 metres, a Japanese remotely operated underwater vehicle discovered extensive structural damage.
Seven of the sunken ship’s eight cargo tanks have leaked, and four are already empty; however, 300,000 litres of oil remain. The oil has made it as far as Palawan Island, which is 350 kilometres from where the tanker sank.
Furthermore, some of it has drifted north to the Verde Island Passage, a region known for its abundant marine life located between Mindoro and Luzon. The two major slicks northwest and southeast of its location now cover an area of 162 square kilometres.
When it was discovered that the ship registered locally had been built in 2022 according to Equasis’ shipping database, questions about its history arose; however, it was pointed out that it was actually very old and had been modified twice.
Furthermore, it was reported that the vessel did not have a permit to operate before embarking on its last voyage because it had previously gone on nine voyages without the proper paperwork.
Reference: The Manila Times, Splash 247
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