U.S. experts arrive in Oriental Mindoro to assist in oil spill response

At the request of the Philippine government, eight experts from the United States government arrived in Pola, Oriental Mindoro today to support the oil spill response operations of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

Five members from the U.S. Coast Guard’s (USCG) National Strike Force will provide subject matter expertise and assess the affected areas to determine the most effective method and equipment to contain and clean up the oil spill from the sunken tanker MT Princess Empress.

Through funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), two members of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will work closely with the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources to conduct rapid environmental assessments of affected areas, identify priority areas at risk of environmental damage, and assess needs for ecosystem restoration.  NOAA has already provided the PCG with satellite imagery to boost assessment efforts.  It also provided the University of the Philippines-Marine Sciences Institute with support for scientific modeling to estimate the trajectory of the spill.

Lastly, a U.S. Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving will evaluate the technical parameters required to support the possible deployment of a remotely operated vehicle.

Prior to their deployment to Pola, the American experts received a briefing on March 20 in Manila from the PCG and the Japan Disaster Relief Expert Team about oil-spill mitigation actions taken so far.

“When vessels are in deep water, as in this case, cleaning up the remaining oil becomes a complicated issue.  Through our incident management professionals’ wealth of experience and strong expertise in oil spill response, we will assist the PCG in developing safe and efficient methods to contain and recover the oil and minimize damage to the environment,” said Commander Stacey Crecy, commanding officer of the USCG Pacific Strike Team.  “The USCG remains deeply committed to our relationship with the PCG.”

Earlier this month, USAID partnered with the World Food Program to support the Philippines Department of Social Welfare and Development in transporting 20,000 food packs for families affected by the oil spill.