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Oil spill hits fishing grounds; Japanese salvage ship arrives in Iloilo

August 30, 2006

ABOARD THE EDSA II, Philippines – A sunken tanker responsible for the Philippines’ worst environmental disaster is leaking less oil, but the slick it caused has reached the country’s richest fishing grounds, the Philippine Coast Guard said Wednesday.

Daniel Gayosa, who is commanding the search and rescue vessel EDSA II at the wreck site, told reporters the sunken 998-ton tanker, Solar 1, was leaking “less than 10 liters” of oil per day.

This compared with about 500 liters per day shortly after it sank in extremely deep waters south of Guimaras island on August 11.

“We still don’t know if there is still oil in there. Those tanks are also watertight and it’s possible some of them are still intact. (But) we still don’t know their status,” Gayosa said.

He said the oil that had leaked was “down to a sheen” two weeks after black sludge contaminated hundreds of kilometers of coastline and damaged a large marine reserve in Guimaras.

Meanwhile, Japanese salvage ship Senshei Maru arrived in the country Wednesday afternoon, ABS-CBN News learned.

The salvage ship arrived at the Iloilo Strait at 4 p.m. and is now anchored at the Iloilo International Port.

Reports said the salvage ship’s first mission is to confirm the exact location of the sunken M/T Solar 1 that has been leaking oil under Panay Gulf.

Officials estimated Solar 1’s location at 600 meters underwater at the Panay Gulf.

The Japanese ship is equipped with seabed scanners and has a remotely operated submersible that can determine the position, condition and the exact location of the sunken tanker.

Petron Corp. signed Fukuda Salvage and Marine Works Co. Ltd. a $20 million contract for the services of the salvage ship.

(For the full stories, click Fishing grounds and Salvage ship, Aug. 30, 2006.)

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