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Robot to help plug leak from sunken tanker to arrive in Philippines

Tan KW
Publish date: Sat, 18 Mar 2023, 09:42 PM
Tan KW
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MANILA, March 18 : A remotely operated vehicle (ROV) from Japan was expected to arrive in the Philippines next week to help plug the leak from a tanker that sank more than two weeks ago, causing a massive oil spill that has affected more than 140,000 people.

The underwater robot was hired by the owner of the MT Princess Empress and was scheduled to arrive on March 20, Defence Secretary Carlito Galvez said in a statement on Thursday.

Government agencies were working together "to expedite the entry of the incoming response team with the remotely operated vehicle from Japan,” he said.

The Princess Empress sank off the coast of Oriental Mindoro province, about 160 kilometres south of Manila, after encountering rough seas on February 28, while transporting 800,000 litres of industrial oil.

According to the Department of Environment and National Resources, the oil from the ship was still leaking at a rate of 35,000 litres to 50,000 litres per day.

Upon arrival, the ROV Hakuyo will first confirm the exact location of the sunken vessel, which is thought to be at a depth of 400 metres in an area approximately 15 kilometres north-east of Oriental Mindoro, said the tanker's owner, RDC Reield Marine Services.

"Once the Princess Empress is found, the ROV will conduct visual surveys of the vessel, recorded on video, to help determine the structural condition of the wreck and check for any ongoing oil leaks,” RDC said in a statement.

"Experts will then assess these surveys to determine further options to address any leaks and remove any remaining cargo,” it added.

 - dpa

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