Superferry 9 fuel oil spill 'unlikely'

Operator of sunken ship in the Philippines says fuel oil leak would be an 'unlikely event'.

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Updated on 07 Sep 2009 09:35 GMT

Aboitiz Transport System (ATS) Corporation, the operator of SuperFerry 9, a vessel which sank yesterday off the coast of Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines has consulted oil experts from Shell Phillipines to discuss the likelihood of fuel oil leaking from its fuel tanks.

The vessel reported yesterday that it was listing to the right in the vicinity of Batarompon Point, West of Zamboanga Peninsula. It was carrying 847 passengers, 117 crew members and 4 sea marshals on board when the incident took place.

The SuperFerry 9 sank hours later. Three people are reported to have died with over 80 people still missing.

According to Aboitiz, SuperFerry has consulted oil experts from Shell Phillipines who have assured them that the heavy fuel oil onboard, will most probably stay inside the fuel tanks of the vessel.

"There is approximately 220 tons of this fuel onboard and in the unlikely event that this fuel should leak, SuperFerry has already hired Harbour Star to bring their oil booms and be prepared with chemical oil dispersants," ATS said in a statement.

The tug of Harbour star has already been dispatched. The Philippine Coast Guard has also mobilized their buoy tender from Palawan with another oil boom and oil dispersants.

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) is reported to have said that a hole in the hull may have been the cause of the ship’s sinking.

In its report, NDCC said the ship listed 9.5 nautical miles west of Bonga Point in Siocon town in Zamboanga del Norte at about 4 a.m. on Sunday, “allegedly due to a hole in the hull."