On 11 August 2006, the coastal tanker Solar 1, chartered by Petron Corp, was transporting 2,000 tonnes of oil when she sank in waters 300 m deep near the island of Guimaras in the Philippines. Over 1,300 tonnes of oil were spilled at sea very rapidly. Of the 20 crew members, 18 were saved, one was reported missing and one lost his life.
The coast was heavily polluted by regular release of oil though leaks in the hull. The island was declared a disaster area by the regional authorities.
Logs and buoys were deployed by the local inhabitants to protect certain sites. Dispersants were spread on the main slick. However, adverse weather conditions delayed response and therefore reduced its effectiveness.
Clean-up operations were lengthy as they had to be carried out painstakingly. Natural clean-up was eventually chosen as the solution in order to prevent human intervention from damaging the environment further.
Nature was disturbed by the oil spill: the growth of phytoplankton, primary source of marine nutrition, was affected, coral secreted too much mucus, and the autonomy and buoyancy of seabirds and dolphins were reduced.
Temporary bans on the consumption of sea produce were imposed. Families were evacuated into centres or to stay with relatives to protect them from the toxic vapours.
In September 2006, the enquiry commission set up by the government concluded that the captain, the shipowner and the operator were responsible for the occurrence of the oil spill. The accusations included the owner ignoring regulations on navigability, the oil company overloading the vessel by around 150 tonnes and an error of judgement by the captain.
In late September 2006, the decision was made to pump the remaining oil out of the tanks, thanks to an agreement with the IOPC Funds for the reimbursement of the operation. The operations were contracted by the shipowner in February 2007 and began in March.
Name: Solar 1
Date: 11 August 2006
Accident area: Island of Guimaras
Cause of spill: damage to ship
Quantity transported: 2,000 tonnes
Type of pollutant: heavy fuel oil (IFO 180)
Quantity spilled: 800 tonnes
Ship type: oil tanker
Owner: Sunshine Maritime Corp
Last update: July 2007