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Post Guimaras, modernize merchant fleet

September 20, 2006

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BIG DEAL
By Dan Mariano, Manila Times
Sept. 20, 2006

The special board of Marine inquiry has just wrapped up its investigation into the August 11 sinking of the M/T Solar 1 in the Guimaras Strait. Now come sightings of an “oil sheen” off the island-province of Marinduque.

The Coast Guard, as of this writing, is still looking into reports that an undetermined amount of oil was discharged by two vessels that had collided near the coast of Boac.

Whatever comes out of the Coast Guard’s probe, one thing remains clear: our waters are under constant threat from vessels that should never have been allowed to set sail in the first place.

Even in the board’s inquiry into the Solar 1 sinking, a ranking member of the board pointed out that establishing the culpability of the parties involved in the disaster offers only a partial solution.

The board has found the oil tanker’s master, Norberto Aguro; the vessel’s owner, Sunshine Maritime Development Corp.; and Petron Corp., which chartered Solar 1, liable for the incident that resulted in the worst oil spill—thus far—in the country’s history.

Some 500,000 liters of bunker oil leaked out of the sunken tanker contaminating the surrounding waters, disrupting the livelihood of 40,000 islanders and despoiling 220 km of coastline in Guimaras and nearby islands.

(For the rest of the piece, click Dan Mariano.)

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