POLA, Philippines—Residents of the central Philippine province affected by an oil spill from a sunken tanker use buckets and mugs to clean up oil as authorities race to stop environmental destruction. , endured the strong stench of petroleum.
Residents of the town of Pola, Mindoro Oriental, wearing personal protective equipment and masks and assisted by Philippine Coast Guard personnel, collected oil-soaked debris and wiped thick sludge from coastal rocks. .
“In our area, the oil is very thick and smells strong,” said Maribel Famadico, a 34-year-old resident, while cleaning up the coast with other volunteers.
“It’s too oily and makes me nauseous if I’m not wearing protective gear. Many people feel sick because of the stench,” she added.
Philippine officials said on Monday that they believed they had spotted a sunken tanker off East Mindoro last week and were planning to deploy a remote-controlled self-driving vehicle to pinpoint its exact location.
The environment ministry said the tanker MT Princess Empress is believed to lie about 1,200 feet (366 meters) below sea level off the coast of Mindoro Oriental, but the information still needs to be verified.
The ship was carrying about 800,000 liters (211,338 gallons) of industrial fuel oil when engine trouble occurred in heavy seas on 28 February.
Famadico said removing the oil from beaches and rocks would likely take several days.
“(The oil) comes back with the tide. Yesterday we cleaned up the area and today we are doing a lot more,” she said.
Marine scientists at the University of the Philippines said about 36,000 hectares (88,958 acres) of coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass could be at risk of being affected by the oil slick.