Sep 232014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/08/06MANILA3549.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA3549 2006-08-24 11:29 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO9697
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #3549/01 2361129
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 241129Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2633
INFO RUEHZS/ASEAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO IMMEDIATE 2832
RULSJGA/COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUSICWP/COMLOGGRUWESTPAC SINGAPORE IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/CJCS WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 003549

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/EX AND EAP/MTS
STATE PASS EPA
STATE PASS USAID
USDOC FOR NOAA/NMMS
USDA PASS FOREST SERVICE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EWWT TPHY EAID SOCI RP
SUBJECT: USG TEAM ARRIVES TO ASSESS PHILIPPINE OIL SPILL

REF: MANILA 03478

——–
SUMMARY
——–

¶1. A USG oil spill response team arrived in the Philippines on
August 23 to help the government assess the damage from the oil
spilled by tanker “Solar I” in the Guimaras Strait and to plan
remediation efforts. The team met with the Embassy’s ad hoc oil
spill working group, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the
Philippine Coast Guard, and the Philippine Undersecretary of
Defense. The team is now on site inspecting the spill and
coordinating with GRP responders. End Summary.

————————-
U.S. STRIKE TEAM MEETINGS
————————-

¶2. Three oil spill experts from the U.S. Coast Guard and one
scientist from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(the Pacific Strike Team or PST) arrived in Manila on August 23.
Members of the PST bring years of experience in analyzing and
suggesting remedies for oil spills. During a meeting with the oil
spill team, the Charge noted that the USG has a long history of
cooperating with the Philippines on a wide range of issues
including: military coordination; counter-terrorism; and disaster
response. This opportunity for the U.S. Coast Guard to work with
their Philippine counterparts to address the oil spill will help
support this partnership and build capacity within Philippine
government agencies.

¶3. The PST then met Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza and
Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Vice Admiral Arthur Gosingan at Coast
Guard Headquarters. The PCG briefed the PST, Embassy Reps, and two
officers from the Japanese Coast Guard, which had deployed a team to
Guimaras Island earlier that day. The group viewed fly-over videos
of the affected area and PCG outlined its priorities: to salvage or
offload the leaking vessel; contain the free-floating oil with
booms; continue to apply dispersants; and conduct shoreline
clean-up.

¶4. The PST also met Undersecretary Ernesto Carolina from the
Department of Defense. Carolina said Petron had contracted Japanese
firm Fukuda Salvage and Marine Works to use a sonar sweep to
determine the exact location of the vessel, siphon out its contents,
and retrieve the tanker. The tanker sank to an estimated 1,000
meters, but the company can retrieve vessels as deep as 2,000
meters. Carolina remains anxious to receive satellite images to
support the ongoing damage assessment. He expressed concern about
the disposal of the recovered oil and contaminated material, and the
need to obtain booms, skimmers, protective covering for personnel,
and other machinery and equipment related to spill clean-up.

—————–
CURRENT SITUATION
—————–

¶5. The PST and Japanese team completed their first aerial survey on
August 24 of some of the affected areas, and witnessed dispersal
operations, shoreline clean up, and further oil leaks from the
vessel. PST Commander reported that it is difficult to determine
the release rate of the bunker oil and estimate the amount already
spilled. The PST believes that the assessment phase will take up to
seven days. They will analyze the incident, survey the area of the
spill, assess available resources, determine response priorities,
and suggest options. After this initial phase, the PST would stay
up to two additional weeks, if desired by the Philippine
government.

¶6. Petron has hired 1,000 local residents for 200 pesos per day
(about $4) to clean up the shoreline. A cadre of volunteers is
working without protective gear. Scrubbing off with turpentine
afterwards is causing rashes, so local health officials are advising
citizens not to participate without protective gear. Guimaras’
Governor told the press that 26,000 fishermen have lost their source

MANILA 00003549 002 OF 002

of livelihood. According to the National Disaster Coordinating
Council (NDCC), damage has occurred in over 1,000 hectares of
Taklong Island National Marine Reserve, 200 kilometers of coastline
and 1,128 hectares of mangrove forest.

¶7. Post appreciates the interagency support for the PST deployment
to help the Philippines with this enormous on-going operation.

JONES

   

 

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