Greenpeace ship to assist Philippine Coast Guard to tackle oil spill

Press release - 18 August, 2006
Greenpeace ship MY Esperanza will sail towards Guimaras Strait this evening to join the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) fleet working to contain and clean-up the Philippines largest ever oil spill in Philippine history.

Under an agreement with the PCG and other groups, the Esperanza and itscrew will conduct a joint visual survey with the PCG at thesoutheastern tip of Guimaras Island, the worst-hit area where aprotected marine sanctuary has been badly devastated. The MY Esperanzawill also transport clean up and containment equipment to PCG units onthe ground, as well as relief goods donated by ABS-CBN Foundation toaffected communities.

The Greenpeace ship and crew will also work with scientists and othermarine/ecology experts to undertake impact assessment and determine thedamage caused by the oil spill to important marine sanctuaries andcoastal ecosystems in the area.

"The Philippine Coast Guard is enlisting Greenpeace in this short butvital impacts assessment work," said Commander Joseph M. Coyme of thePhilippine Coast Guard."The information that Greenpeace and theirpartner scientists provide will give us solid basis in continuing ouroil spill containment and mitigation work."

"Our main concern is how the government can effectively mitigate theimpacts of this disaster to the marine environment and livelihoods ofpeople. It will take years to clean up and rehabilitate affected areasand communities," said Von Hernandez, Campaign Director of GreenpeaceSoutheast Asia. "In this regard, we reiterate our call on thegovernment to make Petron and its partners accountable for all thecosts associated with this disaster."

The Esperanza is in the Philippines on the latest leg of her globalDefending Our Oceans expedition to highlight the wonders and theenvironmental threats to the world's oceans and to campaign for theestablishment of marine reserves. Scientists recognize the Philippinearchipelago as the world's centre of marine biodiversity, but is alsothe most highly threatened, citing the danger of mass extinction in ascale similar to that of the destruction of the Brazilian rainforests.

On Friday, August 11, a Petron-chartered single hull vesselcarrying 2.1 million litres of oil sank in Guimaras Strait, whichGreenpeace characterized as an ecological time bomb that can causelong-term and possible irreversible damage to the environment andlivelihoods of people.

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organisation, which usesnon-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmentalproblems, and to force solutions essential to a green and peacefulfuture.

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VVPR info: Commander Joseph M. Coyme, Spokesperson of Task Force Guimaras Oil Spill, Philippine Coast Guard, +63 906 3788630Von Hernandez, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Campaign Director, +63 917 526 3050Arthur Jones Dionio, Regional Media Campaigner, +63 921 5615305Isabel Leal, Greenpeace International Media Officer (in Amsterdam), +31 20 718 2051

Notes: See also:Recent oil spills - briefingEsperanza crew weblog