Govt still has no definite plan on sunken tanker

September 3, 2006

CLOSE to three weeks after the Solar 1 sank and began spreading oil onto the waters near Guimaras Island, the government has not decided what to do with the wreck.

Glenn Rabonza, executive administrator of the Office of the Civil Defense and executive officer of the National Disaster Coordinating Council, told a press conference in Quezon City Saturday that the salvage team said at first it needed two to three days to plan a strategy to either siphon out the remaining oil or to refloat the vessel. Now it is asking for two to three days more.

The tanker, which went down on August 11, was located by two ships from the National Mapping and Resources Information Authority to be 13.5 nautical miles southwest of Lusaran Point in Guimaras at a depth of 640 meters.

“The task force here is just waiting for the technical advice from the salvage company [Fukada] and Petron and the Philippine Coast Guard. Once that decision is made then we can remove the threat of further spilling from the sunken vessel.”

Asked if the government was satisfied with the pace of work in removing the oil from the waters of Guimaras since three days of assessment has already passed, Rabonza said: “Certainly, we are.”

“The salvage company that we got is reportedly the number one salvage company in Japan. And since this is a job for the experts we just have to defer to their expertise. The area [where the ship sank] is deep and there is extreme pressure so there is danger that the ship might crumble,” Rabonza said. “So instead of recovering the oil, it might even spread.” Candice Y. Cerezo

(Published in the Manila Times, Sept. 3, 2006.)

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