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An oil slick spreads off the Philippines

An oil slick spreads off the Philippines

A huge oil slick has spread off the coast of Oriental Mindoro, south of the capital, Manila, after an oil tanker sank off the Philippines. More than 140,000 people have already been affected by the environmental disaster, either because they have lost their livelihood or are suffering health consequences, provincial governor Humerlito Dolor said today.

The MT Princess Empress sank two weeks ago with 800,000 liters of synthetic oil on board. Since then, oil has been leaking from the ship. The full extent of the ecological disaster is slowly beginning to become apparent. “It’s a nightmare,” said Gloria Ramos, vice president of marine conservation organization Oceana Philippines.

Reuters/Eloisa Lopez

An oiled stretch of beach (photo from the middle of last week, edited).

The leak continues unsealed

The oil spill kills everything, not only marine ecosystems, but also the livelihoods of those who live near it. “There are also health effects for people,” she added. Many have tried to scrape the oil off with their hands. But this is very dangerous because it can cause kidney and liver diseases. Ramos stressed that the oil is highly toxic.

Dolor said the tanker was still leaking. The owner is working to plug the leak. “The destruction in the province is very great. The most affected are fishermen and their families, as well as sellers of fish and fishing equipment.”

She added that the current also pushed the oil north. There now threatens the Strait of Isla Verde, one of the most species-rich marine habitats ever recorded. The strait lies between the islands of Luzon and Mindoro.

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