Guimaras Oil Spill Ship Found Unfit for Sailing

Ship captain had no oil management and safety training

Initial findings from a Board of Marine Inquiry investigation of the Aug. 11 oil spill in Guimaras reveal that the safety management certificate of Solar 1, the ship that figured in the disaster, had already expired. Moreover, the board suspended the ship’s captain Norberto Aguro for failing to undergo oil tanker training and management.

BY KARL G. OMBION AND RYAN B. LACHICA
Bulatlat.com

BACOLOD CITY – Initial findings from a Board of Marine Inquiry investigation of the Aug. 11 oil spill in Guimaras reveal that the safety management certificate of Solar 1, the ship that figured in the disaster, had already expired. The board also suspended the ship’s captain Norberto Aguro for failing to undergo oil tanker training and management.

Marina has ordered the immediate grounding of the two sister vessels of oil tanker M/T Solar 1. Arnie Santiago, acting enforcement manager of Marina in Manila, identified the two sister vessels as Solar 2 and Solar 3. “We will not allow them to operate until the probe on the sinking is over,” he said during the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC) 6 meeting here.

The Board of Marine Inquiry, an agency under Marina, likewise recommended the filing of administrative charges against Aguro and the Sunshine Maritime Development Corporation, pending further investigations.

Repeating disasters

Meanwhile, despite the claims of the government and local RDCCs that the Philippines is a disaster-prepared country, disaster-preparedness has been the least of priorities of this government, commented environmentalist activist and mining engineer Efren Fabila.

Fabila said government particularly Coast Guard has not been serious in addressing the causes of countless disasters in the country. “That is why we keep on having disaster after another at the expense of our environment and people,” he said.

Fabila recounted the grounding of National Power Corporation (Napocor) Power Barge 106 off the coast of Semirara Island in Caluya, Antique, eight months ago, after suffering hours of battering from strong winds and waves. “It spilled more than 200,000 liters of bunker fuel, affecting hundreds of hectares of shoreline around Semirara and neighboring shores; and millions of pesos are being spent for the clean up and rehabilitation of the affected areas, unfortunately, the job remain unfinished today,” Fabila said.

He also blamed the Coast Guard and the local ports authority for not giving right information and precautions. “The tanker should not have been allowed to sail given the storms last week wrecking havoc throughout the country. They should have learned from the Semirara disaster and countless other disasters that had shaken our country in the past years like the Negros Navigation Dona Paz and M/V Cassandra,” he said.

Storms before disaster

Just a day before the oil tanker ship disaster, central Philippines had been battered by two successive storms, bringing untold flashfloods and wind battering, damaging agriculture, properties and lives worth tens of millions of pesos. Worse, people were caught flat-footed as the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) did not raise any storm signal over the Western Visayas.

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