Coastal residents urged to help in oil spill cleanup

Coastal residents urged to help in oil spill cleanup

OIL SPILL DAMAGE. The oil spill due to an explosion of a power barge at Zone 3, Bo. Obrero, in this city’s Lapuz district on July 3 has reached the shores of 20 barangays in Guimaras. The owner of the barge on Tuesday (July 7, 2020) vows to cooperate with the government. (PNA photo courtesy of Guimaras provincial government)

ILOILO CITY – The help of the affected coastal communities in Iloilo City and neighboring Guimaras province is sought to clean up the oil spill from a power barge damaged by an explosion in Zone 3, Bo. Obrero, in this city’s Lapuz District last July 3.

“The faster we do the cleanup, the better it would be. We need more people in the community, equipping them with the proper PPE (personnel protective equipment) to be able to complete the cleanup. And this is the same for Guimaras as well,” Gabino Ramon Mejia, head of plant operations of AC Energy Corporation said on Tuesday.

The damaged power barge 102 Starboard Side is owned by the AC Energy Corporation.

Mejia met with Mayor Jerry P. Treñas to discuss issues that should be addressed following the spill.

He also sought the assistance of the mayor to tap scientists from the University of the Philippines Visayas in coming up with an oil spill trajectory model.

“This is a good way to collaborate with each other — the public and private entities so that they can work together to solve the problem,” he said during a press conference held in the city hall.

Meanwhile, quoting the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Mejia said the cleanup would last 10 to 12 days.

The PCG estimated the oil spilled to be at 251,000 liters as of July 4. He was informed that as of July 6, the collected oil was already 205,000 liters.

However, Mejia said they need to know the location of the fugitive oil or those that escaped the containment area.

The official added that they are open to compensating those who were affected by the oil spill. Hence, he wanted “to know and be guided on how to go about the compensation”.

“We don’t know how but yes we are very much open. There is no skirting the issue, we will face the issue head-on,” he said.

Data from the Iloilo City Operations Center showed that as of 6 a.m. of Tuesday, 255 families are affected and 931 individuals are staying in four evacuation centers set up by the city government.

An additional 50 families in Mansaya also would like to be evacuated because of the strong smell of the bunker fuel.

AC Energy Corp is providing meals cooked by the staff of the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO).

Treñas, in the same press conference, said they are working with scientists from UP Visayas led by Dr. Rex Sadaba, National Resilience Council, and former Admiral Alexander Pama, who is also the former executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and administrator of the Office of Civil Defense.

“This (effect of the oil spill) entails a lot of work. We have to take care of the evacuees, we have to make sure that houses are going to be safe and that they can return to their houses the earliest possible time. Together with the owners, we have to make sure that they have some form of income during this time,” the mayor said.

The bunker fuel, he said, has already reached the mangrove areas and residential houses in Bo. Obrero.

Apart from Iloilo City coastal barangays, the oil spill has already reached the shorelines of 20 barangays in Jordan and Buenavista towns of Guimaras.

The Guimaras Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) identified the affected barangays as Rizal, Hoskyn, Balcon Milleza and Morobuan in Jordan and Montpiller, Rizal, Sto. Rosario, Magsaysay, Zaldivar, Sawang, Taminla, Dagsaan, Tacay, Getulio, San Miguel, Navalas, Bacjao, Tanag, Umilig and Avila in Buenavista.

Guimaras PDRRM officer Teresita Siason said that barangays immediately deployed spill booms and conducted cleanup operations to remove the bunker fuel. (PNA)

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