MANILA, Philippines—Samples taken from areas hit by an oil spill that stretches 300 square kilometers matched that of the diesel being used by a fuel tanker, the Philippine Coast Guard said Friday.
Lieutenant Commander Armand Balilo, PCG spokesman, disclosed this following the release of the result of a cross-matching test made by the PCG to determine if the oil spill that spread a large reddish stain over Manila Bay and in the municipal waters of Cavite province matches the fuel used by M/T Makisig.
The 34,000-barrel-capacity tanker had earlier unloaded fuel at a Petron terminal in the town of Rosario in Cavite province.
Balilo said that underwater investigations were being conducted for possible leaks in the submarine pipes of Petron.
Related story: Petron sends team to check on reports of oil spill
Oil containment booms were deployed while government experts are checking the impact on marine life, PCG environmental protection chief Commodore Joel Garcia said.
The 300-square-kilometer slick was drifting toward the mouth of the bay Friday, Garcia said.
About 20 kilometers of coastline near the capital Manila has been affected, he added.
Asis Perez, head of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, said he has banned the harvesting and sale of shellfish from these areas until further notice.
“Fuel should not be ingested by people,” Perez said.
Garcia said the coast guard decided not to use chemical dispersants as they would poison the water, opting to let the fuel evaporate. He could not say how long this would take.
The fuel tanker and its crew have been detained and its owners will be made to pay for the clean-up if it were proven that it indeed had caused the spill, he added.
Additionally, the crew could face criminal charges unless there were “mitigating circumstances” that led to the release of the fuel into the water.
The tanker’s owners, Herma Shipping and Transport Corp, could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Originally posted at 1:49 p.m.