Oil spill from grounded ship in Zambales averted

Oil spill from grounded ship in Zambales averted

Cargo vessel to be towed before it harms marine environment, says PCG

READY FOR TOWING Salvage operation begins on Monday for detained MV Hyperline 988, a Sierra Leone-flagged vessel that has run aground in the waters off San Felipe, Zambales, shown in this photo taken on June 1. —JOANNA ROSE AGLIBOT

READY FOR TOWING Salvage operation begins on Monday for detained MV Hyperline 988, a Sierra Leone-flagged vessel that has run aground in the waters off San Felipe, Zambales, shown in this photo taken on June 1. —Joanna Rose Aglibot

SAN FELIPE, ZAMBALES, Philippines — An oil spill from a detained foreign aggregate carrier that ran aground here has been prevented due to the ongoing emergency salvage operation, according to the company commissioned to remove the vessel from the town’s shoreline.

Ferdinand Simeon, owner of FES Challenger Salvage and Builders, said in an interview on Monday that the operation, which was initially scheduled to start on June 11, was delayed for a few days because the owner of the unfinished pier, First Luzon Development Corp., barred the salvor’s workers from entering the area where the ship had been stuck.


READ: PCG allows removal of detained foreign vessel after it runs aground in Zambales


Simeon said they were only granted access to the Sierra Leone-flagged MV Hyperline 988 on June 14, allowing them to avert a possible oil spill immediately.

On June 13, Simeon’s team and personnel from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) were scheduled to assess the condition of the distressed vessel.

However, the owner of the unfinished pier barred them, requiring the team to present a permit to board the ship.

According to Simeon, their permit for the emergency salvage operation from the PCG was limited to 30 to 45 days, prompting them to make rapid adjustments to expedite the operation.

He clarified that Hyperline, the vessel’s owner, still decides where to take it, emphasizing that it is not considered abandoned.

“The owner plans to transfer it to Navotas City, but they are still looking for the best place—a dry dock—for them to fix the vessel,” said Simeon.


Decision questioned

But the First Luzon Development Corp., which is constructing the pier, questioned the PCG’s decision to remove the vessel.

In a June 8 letter to the PCG, the pier’s operator said retaining the ship on the jetty port would be “crucial” to the investigation being done by authorities in connection with the reason why it ran aground.

The ship, which carried seven Chinese crew, ran aground at the unfinished pier in Barangay Maloma on May 29 while on its way to Barangay Bolitoc in Sta. Cruz town, also in Zambales, to change anchorage.

Five crew members have been forced to stay at a local resort, while two others must stay on the vessel to secure it.

“It is clear that any move to remove the vessel from the scene of the accident or crime must first be preceded by the insurance company visiting the site to provide an assessment of the damage,” the letter read.

It also refuted the PCG’s assertion that the vessel’s continued presence in its current location poses an environmental threat.

“No ship poses environmental harm by being on water. If such is the case, then the Coast Guard should remove all its vessels from the waters of the Philippines,” First Luzon said.

It added: “If it is the danger of oil or fuel that worries the Coast Guard, it is not the vessel it should order to remove but simply the oil and fuel, which could easily be siphoned through its outlets.”


Cmdr. Euphraim Jayson Diciano, head of the PCG station in the province, reminded the corporation that it is the PCG, not First Luzon, that is the sole agency responsible for the “promotion of the safety of life and property in the internal or territorial waters of the country.”

“[The PCG] promulgates and administers regulations in the conduct of salvage of vessels, wrecks, or objects and other hazards in navigation,” said Diciano, citing Republic Act No. 9993, or the PCG Law of 2009.

According to Diciano, the vessel was not merely “on the water” but had beached and run aground.

“The typhoon season is already in effect. The subject vessel, which carries a large quantity of oil and fuel, is a hundred-ton steel ship at the mercy of the waves and tides, and is in continuous contact with the shore,” he said.

The ship, which would normally be loaded with aggregates, was empty of cargo when it ran aground, according to officials.

On June 10, the PCG released the salvage company’s permit for the emergency salvage operation of MV Hyperline 988.

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The vessel was detained on May 16 due to 21 deficiencies discovered during an unauthorized anchorage at Barangay Sindol here.

TAGS: Chinese crew, Philippine Coast Guard, Zambales

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