In response, the three oil companies sought to show that the depots do not pose any danger to the Pandacan community. Shell, Caltex and Petron conducted a quantitative risk assessment on health, safety and environment through EQE International, a third-party consultant.
In May 2002, EQE concluded that the existing configuration of the oil facilities in Pandacan exceeds internationally acceptable societal risk criteria. To further improve safety and security in the Shell depot, the following key recommendations were made:
1) removal of two vertical tanks nearest to the residents;
2) additional fire water deluge system for the pipe-racks;
3) and automatic start-up system for the firewater pumps.
After implementing these measures, EQE concluded that the maximum individual risk of a fatality caused by the depots becomes 20 times lower than the risks in an average household.
In June 2002, the Mayor signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the three oil companies, and the Department of Energy, agreeing to let the depots stay if the oil companies:
1. dismantle 28 tanks located near the perimeter walls and residential areas, including the LPG spheres;
2. develop a buffer zone between the depots and the residential areas, wherein they would place a linear park;
3. establish joint operations and management of common, integrated and shared facilities.
As a part of its commitment to ensure the health, safety, security and environment of its neighbouring community, Shell decided to check the safety of the environment using a process called environmental site assessment (ESA) through ENSR, a multi-national environmental consultancy company, to do the study on the condition of the soil and groundwater within the property of Shell Pandacan and in the community adjacent to its perimeter walls.