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Gov’t to tighten regulation on tankers; DOJ to summon spill ‘suspects’

August 28, 2006

PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said today the government will now require all oil tankers to be double-hull and double-bottom ahead of the international requirements as a result of the massive oil spill in Guimaras.

This developed as the Justice Secretary is expected to meet with officials of Petron Corp. and the owner of the sunken M/T Solar 1 for the government to determine if both are criminally liable for the oil spill in Guimaras, ANC reported.

In a radio interview, Arroyo said “We will not wait until 2015. We will now require oil tankers to be double-hull and double bottom.”

A double hull is a ship hull design and construction method where the bottom and sides of the ship have two complete layers of watertight hull surface: one outer layer forming the normal hull of the ship, and a second inner hull which is somewhat further into the ship, which forms a redundant barrier to seawater in case the outer hull is damaged and leaks.

MT Solar 1, which was ferrying Petron’s 2 million liters of bunker fuel when it sank on August 11 some 24 km off Guimaras coast, was a single-hull tanker.

Arroyo is returning to Guimaras today and will stay overnight at the Costa Aguada Resort in Sibugan town to encourage tourists to return to the popular island resort.

For his part, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said: “What the President is asking me, for example, is to find out if there is a criminal act [and if] some people should be responsible.”

Arroyo ordered the DOJ over the weekend to establish who is responsible for the oil slick during her visit to the island. She is scheduled to return to Guimaras this afternoon to check on the progress of the clean-up operations as well as to promote the island’s tourism industry.

Petron, meanwhile, assured the public that its officials will attend the DOJ meeting as well as the planned Senate investigation.

“You know, the DOJ has the right to demand explanation. Further than that I don’t know what [it will do],” Virginia Ruivivar, Petron spokewoman, told a separate interview.

(Condensed from GMA 7 and ABS-CBN 2 postings, Aug. 28, 2006. Click GMA News and ABS-CBN for the full stories.)

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