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Group that certified tanker’s seaworthiness snubs probe

September 4, 2006

OFFICIALS of the international inspection group that certified the M/T Solar I as seaworthy failed to show up in the hearing held Monday by the Board of Marine Inquiry (BMI) on the Guimaras oil spill.

BMI member Commodore Benjamin Mata decried the nonappearance of France-based Bureau Veritas representatives and said there must be “something they (Bureau Veritas) are hiding.”

However, he admitted that the board did not have the power to compel the company’s officials to appear before the investigating panel.

Officials of Petron Corp., the oil giant that chartered the tanker to transport some two million liters of bunker fuel from Bataan northwest of Manila to the southern Philippines port city of Zambonga, had earlier said they relied on Bureau Veritas’ certification to ascertain the seaworthiness of the vessel.

The M/T Solar I sank off the central Philippines island-province of Guimaras last August 11. It is believed to have leaked out between 200,000-300,000 liters.

The 998-ton ship, owned by Sunshine Maritime Development Corp., was launched in 1988.

(Click Snub, Sept. 4, 2006, for the full story.)

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