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Safety officer had no clear knowledge of tanker – prober

September 1, 2006

By Joel Guinto

THE SAFETY officer of the sunken M/T Solar I appeared to be clueless about the seaworthiness of the oil tanker, the head of the government fact-finding team looking into the sinking said Friday.

Macario Macariola of the Sunshine Maritime and Development Corporation (SMDC) clammed up when asked difficult questions by members of the Special Board of Marine Inquiry (SBMI).

Under intense questioning, Macariola answered repeatedly: “I can’t answer that now.”

The Solar I, owned by SMDC and chartered by Petron Corporation, was carrying some two million liters of bunker fuel when it went down in rough seas off Guimaras province on August 11.

Since then, experts believe up to 1.3 million liters have leaked out from the tanker, one of the worst oil spills in the country’s history.

“Apparently we are getting the impression that the safety officer (Macariola) does not have a very clear knowledge of the condition of the vessel,” said Rear Admiral Danilo Abinoja, who chairs the fact-finding board tasked to investigate the circumstances surrounding the sinking.

“Gulong-gulo ang isip nya (His mind is very troubled). He just came from Guimaras,” Abinoja added.

(Click safety officer, Sept. 1, 2006.)

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