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Guimaras oil spill site to be declared off-limits to ships

March 2, 2007

By Ronilo Ladrido Pamonag
The Philippine Star 03/02/2007

ILOILO CITY – While offloading oil from the sunken tanker Solar 1, vessels will not be allowed to pass or fish anywhere within a one-kilometer radius around the Guimaras spill site, authorities said the other day.

Commander Eduardo Fabricante, deputy commander for the Philippine Coast Guard in Western Visayas, said they will be issuing a “notice to mariners to alert and notify vessels not to pass the area.”

“That area (where Solar 1 sunk) is very wide. Navigators are directed to take other routes,” Fabricante said in a press briefing.

The area is considered navigable waters, although Fabricante is not certain whether it is being used as a sea lane or not.

Presidential Assistant for Western Visayas Rafael Coscolluela, a member of the Task Force Solar 1 Oil Spill, stressed that there will be “no passing, no fishing” within the one-kilometer radius from ground zero.

The restricted zone will be enforced throughout the offloading operations. Sonsub, the Italian deep sea construction services provider, will be conducting the oil recovery operations on Solar 1 starting March 4.

Its ship, Allied Shield, is scheduled to dock at the Bacolod Reclamation Port on March 14. It will steam for the oil spill site afterwards to start the oil recovery operation.

Robin Galleti of Sonsub estimates the offloading to last about 25 days, depending on the quantity of oil remaining in Solar 1’s 10 cargo holds.

However, Coscolluela said that the restrictive zone will not cause any convenience to ships. – With Antonietta Lopez

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