The need for witnesses in the Princess of the Stars toxic chemical recovery

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Divers from Titan Salvage and Harbor Star started their salvage work by taking a survey near around “ground zero,” but media were kept away from the operations center.” GMANewsTV (09/25/08, Dedace, S.)

Why will government officials disallow the media to observe the conduct of the endosulfan recovery operations in the sunken ship Princess of the Stars? With toxic chemicals on board, the ship owned by Sulpicio Lines sank at the height of Typhoon Frank on June 21, 2008, killing about 800 passengers.

For the sake of truth, it’s important that the salvage operation be witnessed. The relatives of those who perished need to know how the bodies trapped in the ship are being handled. Residents in the area close to the sunken ship are anxious to know where their safety stands as sluggish recovery goes on. There must be no secrecy in the recovery operation.

The longer it takes to recover the toxic chemicals, the higher the chance the containers will leak and cause contamination. With real fear of an environmental disaster, the public is left guessing for three months now what’s going on with the chemicals left out to leach in the salty sea.


A haphazard handling of endosulfan can contaminate the area. The hazardous chemical can be carried far by water current and is capable of sparking an environmental catastrophe which can cause havoc in humans and wildlife. If this happens, without the media watching, few people can be warned. And less people will know the truth.

The plan of the local government of Romblon to evacuate residents in case of a spill is laudable, but the people must be assured that the handling of hazardous material is done correctly. To allay public fear, the government needs periodic advisories on the progress of the salvage operation. But these aren’t done as expected.

Perhaps, to discourage the media from being in the site, the concern about being exposed to toxic chemicals isn’t justified. Reporters usually come to sites of danger as part of their jobs, just like those workers who signed up to work in the submerged ship. (Photo Credits: Somophils; Zinnie)=0=

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