On July 11, 2020 EQPB received a call from Koror State Rangers reporting a sunken vessel at the Malakal Port. Monitoring & Compliance Manager, Mike Blesam and Environmental Inspector, Darwin Florencio responded to the scene immediately to assess the situation. At the scene, Koror State Rangers helped to identify the owner of the vessel enabling EQPB to establish contact.
EQPB officials found the vessel only partially sunken, with the forward section or bow above the surface of the water. A crew member on site reported that the vessel had no engine however a bucket of used oil was on the deck at the time it sank. The sinking resulted in oil sheen on the surface of the water as well as debris in close vicinity of the vessel. To contain the oil spill, EQPB officials worked with Koror State Rangers to deploy oil booms and absorbent pads to contain and remove the oil around the sunken vessel.
The owner of the vessel has been responsive and has provided a Disposal Plan that includes refloating and relocating the vessel to an area where it can be dismantled and disposed of properly. EQPB continues to monitor the vessel to ensure no further damage is done to the surrounding marine environment until the Disposal Plan is implemented.
Another fishing vessel sank in Ngerchaol in Rebaimelachel area in the early morning of Friday, August 7. Diesel sheen as well as debris were observed in the surrounding waters near the sunken vessel. EQPB officials again worked with Koror State Rangers to deploy oil booms to contain an area of approximately 500 sq. feet. Once the spill was contained, absorbent pads were applied to the water surface to soak up the diesel sheen.
To further protect the surrounding marine environment, EQPB officials worked with the owner of the vessel from Friday until Sunday collecting debris as well as diesel soaked absorbent pads. The debris and absorbent pads were disposed of properly with the assistance of Mr. Calvin Ikesiil of the Division of Solid Waste Management of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Industries & Commerce (MPIIC).
The sunken vessel was tethered to another vessel at the time it sank. EQPB officials boarded the vessel that remained afloat to inspect and found the vessel to be unseaworthy. As such, EQPB is now working in consultation with the owner to develop a Disposal Plan to ensure both vessels are disposed of properly in order to minimize further damage to the surrounding marine area. EQPB continues to monitor the area until the Disposal Plan is finalized and implemented.
Title 24 of the Palau National Code Annotated (Title 24 PNCA) mandates EQPB to protect and conservethe quality of Palau’s environment and its resources. This authorizes EQPB to board and inspect any vessel in Palau’s waters and to take action to minimize risk to the environment as necessary. In this connection, EQPB collaborates with partners including Koror State Rangers, Bureau of Transportation, Division of Solid Waste Management, among others to ensure Palau’s waters remain pristine and productive. Successful partnership does not only rest within government agencies. Community members are very important partners in that you are the resource owners and as such, we ask that you report any activities that may be detrimental to our pristine environment. For more information on activities we can do to protect our environment, please call EQPB at 488-1639/3600.

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