The remaining oil from the sunken tanker, Princess Empress, is being drained off the coast of Oriental Mindoro in the Philippines. The dive support vessel Fire Opal began pumping out the 100,000 liters of oil at the wreck site on behalf of the Princess Empress’ P&I Club. The operation is estimated to last around 20 to 30 days. Once the remaining oil has been removed, the affected areas will be cleaned up, and normal life resumed for the Mindoreños.
The Princess Empress sank with about 800, 000 liters of fuel oil on board, resulting in pollution that affected the province’s coastal villages, which rely on fishing and tourism. The Philippine Maritime Industry Authority alleges that the accident may have been caused by Princess Empress’ lack of a valid domestic trade operating permit, raising questions about the crew’s submitted paperwork to the Philippine Coast Guard before departing the voyage. The Philippine Department of Justice claims that the product tanker was not new construction but rather a converted “scrap ship,” bought and redeemed by owner RDC Reield Marine Services. The owners dispute the claim, saying the ship was a new build.
The Philippines has been subject to several oil spills in the past, highlighting the need for stringent tanker safety measures in the country’s waters. The country’s two worst oil spills occurred in 1983 and 1993 and killed almost 600 people. The Philippines enacted laws to regulate the shipping industry after the 1993 disaster, but the government has been accused of lax enforcement.
As countries increasingly rely on shipping to trade goods globally, the issue of oil spills is a challenge that policymakers will have to address. Countries implementing measures to mitigate environmental risk from tanker accidents can protect coastlines, tourism, fishing, and biodiversity. Stricter enforcement of regulations and policies may reduce the chances of casualties and environmental damage caused by tanker accidents, ultimately cutting environmental costs and ensuring a sustainable future for ocean-dependent industries.
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