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Solar I in ‘upright position’

August 31, 2006

(UPDATE) THE SUNKEN oil tanker M/T Solar I has been found at the bottom of the Panay Gulf, Philippine Coast Guard commandant, Vice Admiral Arthur Gosingan, said Thursday.

With the help of a sonar-equipped submersible from the Japanese salvage vessel Shinsei Maru, the vessel was found in an “upright position” and “listing slightly on the starboard [right] side” on the seabed, Gosingan said in a television interview.

He said no oil was seen pouring out of the vessel although there were signs of an earlier leakage, as indicated by a crack on the right side of the ship and the smudges of oil around it.

“They have not detected any leakage whatsoever… They have not observed leakage or spill coming out of the ship,” Gosingan said.

“The report is that [the ship] is still upright. It is not overturned,” he said.

Gosingan said it was “impossible at this time” to say how the M/T
Solar 1 would be retrieved from the ocean, given the data from the
Japanese vessel, which arrived in the country early Wednesday evening.

Officials are considering siphoning out the remaining oil from the tanker, entombing the ship or refloating it to the surface.

The BRP Edsa Dos escorted the Shinsei Maru, from the Japanese firm Fukada Marine and Salvage Works, the Coast Guard chief said.

The M/T Solar 1, which was carrying two million liters of bunker fuel owned by Petron Corp., sank into the Guimaras Strait amid stormy weather last August 11. Two of the tanker’s crewmembers remain missing.

Experts estimate that about 1.3 liters have leaked out since then. The resulting slick has damaged fishing grounds, beaches, marine reserves, and mangroves in Guimaras Island and portions of Iloilo and Negros Occidental.

(Published on INQ7.net, Aug. 31, 2006.)

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