Ship that ran aground off Zambales coast not a dredger, company clarifies
MANILA, Philippines – A ship that ran aground near the coast of Botolan town in Zambales is not a dredger, the company that owns the ship clarified on Tuesday.
According to Z2K Resources Inc. — which admitted to be officially doing dredging and desalting operations on Bucao River — the vessel designated as MV Zhong Hai 69 Alfa (ZH 69) was not doing dredging at the time it hit the seafloor.
The ship was pushed by strong winds when Typhoon Butchoy (internationally known as Nuri) moved from the country’s eastern seas to Central Luzon and then Northern Luzon seas.
“It is an aggregates carrier ship and does not have any capability to dredge or suction sand,” Z2K Resources chief operating officer Fiedni Fontamillas said in a statement.
“As a result, there was a breach in the wall of the ship that allows the water to enter the hull when it is constantly hit by strong waves,” he added.
Fontamijlas said, however, that the company had started preparing to move the vessel to a shipyard as repairs had been finished, with no signs of an oil leak in the area.
“In order to prevent further damage and possible sinking while on the anchorage, emergency repairs were done in coordination with PCG (Philippine Coast Guard) personnel stationed in Masinloc, Zambales,” he added.
“The breach has already been sealed and ZH 69 will be moved to a shipyard for dry dock,” Fontamillas said.
Last June 18, reports that the Chinese dredger hit the seafloor surfaced, although authorities confirmed that there was no evidence of any oil that might have leaked from the vessel. However, fisherfolk group Pamalakaya pushed for the removal of the dredger, which they said were affecting the livelihood of people in the area.
Pamalakaya National Chairman Fernando Hicap said in a statement dated June 20 that fish catch had dwindled since the ship ran aground, adding that the owners must be held accountable.
Z2K Resource refuted these allegations, saying that it had talked with Botolan local officials to ensure that the project would not have a negative effect on the environment.
The company added that it was allowed to do dredging operations after the Zambales provincial government gave it a permit to operate starting on May 28, 2020, to declog the heavily-silted part of Bucao River.
“The project is aimed at restoring the natural state and water flow to prevent further flooding in the future,” Z2K said.
“Prior to the start of operations, Z2K conducted dialogues with concerned local officials of the Municipality of Botolan to ensure that the project will make a positive impact not only on the environment but also in the inclusive development of the community,” it added.
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