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Haphazard handling of oil spill sludge scored

August 26, 2006

DRUMS of sludge collected from the shores of Guimaras province are just being “dumped” along the shoreline, and may threaten the environment again with the next high tide.

Environmental group Greenpeace on Saturday scored Petron Corp. and government for the supposed haphazard handling of the waste and for failure to ensure protection for fishermen collecting the waste.

“They’re just dumping the sludge on the shores… haphazardly,” Greenpeace campaigner Von Hernandez said in an interview on dzBB radio.

He warned that, “the sludge may break out of the containers and return to the shores at the next high tide.”

Hernandez’s assessment came hours before President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was scheduled to visit Guimaras to personally survey the damage that the oil spill has wrought.

The provincial government, he noted, was still waiting for Petron Corp., a company that is 30 percent owned by the government, to fulfill its promise send a barge to collect the sludge.

Petron Corp. had commissioned the ill-fated tanker “Solar 1″ to ferry two million liters of bunker oil from Bataan to Mindanao. The “Solar 1″ sank off Guimaras last Aug. 11.

Hernandez averred that two weeks hence, fishermen hired by Petron to collect the sludge and remain unprotected.

“We have volunteers setting up booms to help clean the oil spill. But the fishermen deserve protection such as boots, gloves and masks,” he said.

(Originally published on the GMA News web site, Aug. 26, 2006. Click here.)

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