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Retrieval a complicated engineering operation

October 24, 2006

By Leila Salaverria
Inquirer, Oct. 24, 2006

(Second of a series of an I-Team Report)

EXPERTS are fast-tracking intricate engineering preparations for the dangerous task of removing the remaining bunker fuel oil from the sunken MT Solar I as international insurers and scientists decide on the most auspicious time to carry out the retrieval operations.

It will not be easy, say Philippine officials and environmentalists, who have been knocking their heads to see to it that the recovery effort, to be financed by the London-based International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund (IOPC), will come off without a hitch.

Just assembling the equipment will take weeks for the operation that will have to take place on a clear day, when the sea is calm.

The Solar I was carrying 2.1 million liters of oil for Petron Corp. from Bataan to Zamboanga del Sur when it went down on Aug. 11 in choppy waters off Guimaras, causing environmental damage to the island’s rich marine life and resorts.

Siphoning the oil will require vessels with dynamic positioning (DP) systems that will allow them to remain fixed in an area above the Solar I by using their propellers and thrusters. Mooring or anchoring is not feasible in the sea 630 meters deep, where the crippled tanker sits on the floor.

(For the full story, click Retrieval.)

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