Retrieval operations for the bodies inside the sunken ship M/V Princess of the Stars will soon resume after the chemical shipment is taken out according to Transportation and Communications Undersecretary Elena Bautista, who is also the head of the government task force overseeing search and retrieval operations.
Water samples brought to the Department of Health in Manila for testing turned out negative from endosulfan contamination. This signals that retrieval operation may now be safe and can resume anytime soon.
Sa ngayon, itong Sulpicio Lines ay itinatanggi pa rin na may kaalaman sila na ang chemical shipment ng Del Monte Philippines, Inc. (at karga ng M/V Princess of the Stars) na endosulfan ay nakakalason. Kaya tuloy maraming tao ang naalarma sa pagbili ng isda baka ito ay huli sa karagatan malapit sa pinagyarihan ng sakuna. Ika nga ng iba, buking na nagmamaang-maangan pa.
Divers finished with water sampling from Sulpicio ship
ABS-CBN News Online
Divers who went near the ill-fated M/V Princess of the Stars have taken the final water samples from the sunken ship to determine if the vessel’s endusulfan shipment is still intact, a transportation and communications official said Tuesday.
Transportation and Communications Undersecretary Elena Bautista, head of the government task force overseeing search and retrieval operations, said divers took the water samples on Monday by drilling holes into the cargo hold of the ship owned by Sulpicio Lines Inc.“If it turns out negative from contamination, most likely the endosulfan inside the ship is still intact,” Bautista told radio dzMM.She said the water samples will be brought to the Department of Health office in Manila on Tuesday for testing.
Experts from Subsea Services, a commercial diving company, started the inspection Monday morning. The company’s Filipino diving supervisor, Ruben Jeciel, led the divers.
Bautista said a total of four samples were taken, three of which turned out negative for contamination.
The official said other chemicals were present in the sunken ship. She, however, clarified that the endosulfan shipment is the only dangerous cargo.
Bautista said the government is speeding up the retrieval of the 40-footer container van where the 10-metric ton of endosulfan is kept. She said that based on documents from the Philippine Coast Guard, the pineapple pesticide was placed in a plastic bags sealed by plastic wires.
She said retrieval operations for the bodies inside the sunken ship will immediately resume right after the chemical shipment is taken out.
The task force halted the retrieval operations late last week after discovering the chemical shipment. Del Monte Philippines, Inc. (DMPI), the owner of the pesticide, informed the government about the shipment.
Meanwhile, Bautista admitted that she already has her “personal” opinion on who should be blamed for the sinking of the ship and the undisclosed chemical shipment in the Sulpicio Lines’ sunken ship.
She, however, declined to reveal it as she said the government would have to wait for the results of the Board of Marine Inquiry. She said the board promised to finish the inquiry in 15 to 20 days.
Sulpicio blames PAGASA
Sulpicio Lines on Monday filed a civil case against the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and two of its officials for “gross negligence and incompetence” in forecasting the path of typhoon Frank (international codename, Fengshen), which it blamed for the sinking of its ship.In the civil case, the PAGASA, as an agency, as well as its director Prisco Nilo and chief weather forecaster Nathaniel Cruz, are being sued for “gross negligence and incompetence” in forecasting the weather, particularly the projected path of the typhoon from June 20 to June 21.Sulpicio Lines lawyer Arthur Lim said the agency first announced on the evening of June 20 that the storm was moving northwest, but at 5 a.m. of June 21 the agency announced the storm had moved westward.
In effect, Sulpicio Lines said that due to faulty weather forecasting by the national weather bureau, the ship’s captain directed the ferry towards the typhoon path.
…and also Del Monte
Also on Monday, the Sulpicio Lines said it was not aware that the “endosulfan, technical” shipment of the ill-fated ship was hazardous and toxic.
“There should be a complete disclosure on the part of the shipper. We have to rely in good faith because the shipper is the owner of the cargo (endosulfan shipment),” Sulpicio’s lawyer, Ma. Victoria Lim-Florido, told ABS-CBN’s “Umagang Kay Ganda”.
Florido said the shipper, Del Monte Philippines, Inc. (DMPI), described the toxic shipment only as “endosulfan, technical” and failed to disclose that the cargo was “toxic and marine pollutant.”
The lawyer added that DMPI’s customs document and transshipment permit did not indicate that the endosulfan cargo was a restricted chemical.
“As the shipper, the (DMPI) has the obligation to fully disclose the kind of shipment. The contract in the bill of lading should have a complete disclosure,” the lawyer insisted, adding that the Sulpicio Lines accepted the shipment “in good faith” even if there was no complete disclosure.
DMPI, however, insisted that it was ”impossible” for Sulpicio Lines not to know that the Princess of the Stars carried the endosulfan shipment when it capsized during the height of typhoon Frank last June 21.
DMPI said Sulpicio, as the carrier of the shipment, “has the responsibility for the endosulfan and all cargo” aboard the ill-fated ship.
“It is impossible for Sulpicio not to know that endosulfan is a toxic material despite having been presented with the required documents, as Sulpicio admitted on national television last Friday,” the statement said.
“Under the law, Sulpicio must exercise extraordinary diligence in ensuring that all cargo arrive safely at their destination,” Del Monte said.