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Leaking Philippines tanker found

Leaking Philippines tanker found

Manila: The sunken tanker responsible for the Philippines worst oil spill disaster has been located on the seabed off Nueva Valencia in Guimaras province some two weeks after it sank in bad weather. The Solar I, lying at 600-700 metres depth, continues to leak oil, albeit, according to charterer Petron Corp, at a minimal rate.
Some 350,000 litres of the tankers cargo of 2m litres of bunker fuel is estimated to have spilled, and an estimated 220 kilometres of coastline is already affected. As of yesterday a total of 329 cases of ill health connected to the spill had been reported to the Regional Disaster Co-ordinating Committee according to Philippine news agencies.
Petron, which is leading the response, has hired Fukuda Salvage's Shensei Maru for the salvage effort. The ship may either be refloated or the remaining oil pumped out. An underwater survey through an ROV will be undertaken to assess the position.
The Japanese vessel was due to arrive tomorrow, coinciding with a visit to the stricken region by Philippines president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, but has reportedly been delayed.
Petron has responded to calls to provide immediate huge funds to compensate affected fishermen in the region and provide other economic aid by pointing out that the spiller is primarily responsible for the clean-up under the supervision of the Coast Guard.
The owner of the 998-ton Solar I, Petron, and the Government have come in for heavy criticism locally for an allegedly "sluggish" response to a disaster which threatens the livelihoods of tens of thousands of fishermen in the region. (25/08/06)

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