Philippines oil spill threatens marine sanctuary

Manila, Mar 20 (EFE).- The industrial oil spill from the sinking of a cargo ship in February has reached the marine corridor of Isla Verde, a marine sanctuary of high ecological value, which could create an environmental catastrophe, the coast guard told EFE on Monday.

“The oil has already been seen both in the marine corridor and on the beaches of Isla Verde itself,” coast guard sources told EFE in Mindoro, the neighboring island to the marine sanctuary.

The arrival of the spill at the marine sanctuary “could potentially generate an environmental catastrophe” in the corridor, since it is a marine reserve with a rich fauna and flora, and where numerous endemic species live, according to Irene Rodriguez, from the Marine Institute at the University of the Philippines.

So far, the university estimates more than 533 hectares of mangroves have been affected by the spill in Pola alone, in Oriental Mindoro, one of the towns that has suffered the most from the oil spill due to its proximity to the sinking of the cargo ship.

The MT Princess ship, a cargo ship with the Philippine flag and built in 2022, capsized on Feb. 28 with 800,000 liters of industrial oil near the coast of the island of Mindoro.

According to a report published Sunday by the university, the ship continues to spill oil into the ocean, although it did not give details of the number of liters in the ocean thus far.

The direction of the wind, which until now had been favorable to contain the spill in an area relatively close to the sunken ship, could change in the coming days and spread the oil to the north, which could affect more areas of the Isla Verde sanctuary.

The Philippine government is receiving help from its Japanese counterpart to contain the spill that continues to spew from the cargo ship, which sank at a depth of about 400 meters, without authorities having yet managed to seal the route through which the oil is escaping.

According to Rodriguez, the environmental cleanup of the spill could take up to a year, and fishermen from towns near the spill would not be able to fish in these waters for about six months. EFE


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