Sunday, July 13, 2008

UN experts to start assessing toxic threat on Tuesday.

This is from abs-cbn.
This story is not on the mainstream western press and probably won't be unless this turns into another disaster. Not only are there several pesiticides involved as cargo in the container van but there is a lot of bunker fuel as well. The article is not too informative as to whether there is much if any leakage as yet. The situations sounds quite dangerous.


UN experts to start assessing toxic threat on Tuesday
Experts from the United Nations (UN) will spend a week assessing the environmental threat posed by the sunken ferry MV Princess of the Stars beginning Tuesday, an official said. Transportation and Communication Undersecretary Elena Bautista, head of Task Force MV Princess of the Stars, said the UN team will determine if there is a need to dispatch a bigger group of specialists to Sibuyan Island, Romblon to salvage the toxic endosulfan cargoBautista said she will meet with the foreign experts on Monday. “They will be there to make an assessment and join up with the team from Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources that has established a laboratory on site so that they can more regularly test the water samples,” she told ANC. The international team of experts arrived in the Philippines on Friday amid concerns that the highly toxic endosulfan, stored in a container van that is still in the ship's hull, plus 10,000 liters of bunker fuel, could cause a major ecological disaster. The three-member team -- a marine chemist, an eco-toxicologist and a civil protection expert -- will spend a week in the Philippines to assess the situation and determine priority needs, reports said.The experts were deployed jointly by the UN and the European Union (EU) at the request of Philippine authorities. An on-going threat In an interview with abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said the government is testing the waters in the vicinity of the ship daily in an attempt to prevent food poisoning and other problems from breaking out in Romblon province. "The [environmental] threat is still there. It's an ongoing threat, so we are monitoring through testing of the water every day. That is the agreement in the task force," he said. Duque said the Philippine government sought the help of foreign experts from the UN and EU since the Philippines lacks the expertise and equipment in managing the environmental threat. "Well, we need as much support and assistance as we can to facilitate the mitigation and the resolution of the problem with regard to the sunken vessel, the recovery of the bodies inside the sunken vessel, the removal of the endosulfan pesticide, as well as the four other toxic insecticides inside the containers of the sunken vessel," he said.Asked about fears that the sea current may cause a regional toxic chemical spill, Duque said: "Well, it depends on the volume of the fuel that is there and the chemicals. And then you have the danger of mixture of the chemicals and the fuel." He said the government still does not know whether there is enough time left to avoid a second disaster from happening. "You're talking about modeling, what could happen after one month. Well, it's very difficult. We need to make some very careful assumptions as to what risks may increase over time, and the longer it takes to get the sunken vessel refloated, what could be the possible consequences," Duque said. "There are many possible consequences."

No comments: