UN will inspect capsized Philippine Ferry Carrying Pesticides

This is from Bloomberg.
If there is serious leakage of the pesticides into the water this could be disastrous for the local marine environment. Already fishing is banned in the area. Other news reports claim that the ferry is not to be refloated but towed to shore. As usual it takes a while to get agreement on what is to happen.

UN Will Inspect Capsized Philippines Ferry Carrying Pesticides
By Michael Heath
July 11 (Bloomberg) -- The United Nations sent a team of chemical specialists to the Philippines to inspect a ferry carrying pesticides that capsized in a typhoon last month, killing more than 700 passengers and crew.
``If not handled properly, this could be a disaster upon a disaster,'' said Vladimir Sakharov, chief of the environmental unit that coordinates international responses to such emergencies. ``Leakage of the ferry's toxic cargo would cause major ecological damage and thereby have a terrible impact on the livelihoods of people living in the region.''
Philippine salvage crews suspended efforts to retrieve bodies from the MV Princess of the Stars June 27 after discovering tons of pesticides in the vessel lying about 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) off Sibuyan Island in the central Philippines. Only 56 of the more than 800 people on board survived the disaster, with the remainder probably trapped inside the vessel, according to the UN.
The world body is concerned about ``large'' quantities of ``highly toxic'' insecticides including endosulfan, carbofuran and methmamidophos in the vessel, in addition to an estimated 100,000 liters of fuel.
The June 21 accident, which occurred as Typhoon Fengshen struck the area, is the Philippines' worst maritime disaster since the MV Dona Paz ferry sank in 1987 after colliding with an oil tanker, killing more than 4,000 people.
Float Ferry
The Philippines will try to float the ferry in order to remove the pesticides in an operation that may take as long as three months, Transport Undersecretary Elena Bautista said last week. It will involve positioning floaters under the vessel and using ballasts to turn it upright.
The UN team, comprising a marine chemist, an eco- toxicologist and a civil protection specialist, will spend a week in the Philippines to assess how to ensure the pesticides don't leak, the world body said in a statement on its Web site yesterday. The mission is a joint initiative of the UN and European Union, it added.
Philippine and U.S. divers discovered 10 metric tons of endosulfan belonging to Del Monte Philippines, prompting them to abandon salvage efforts, Vice President Noli de Castro told a news conference June 27.
The vessel was on a regular run between Manila and Cebu, the country's biggest cities, when it was caught in huge swells and ran aground before capsizing. The tip of the bow remains above water.
To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Heath in Sydney at mheath1@bloomberg.net Last Updated: July 10, 2008 20:59 EDT


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