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Oil spill hits 6 towns, 3,000 families

August 26, 2006

THE Philippine Coast Guard Saturday said the oil spill in Guimaras has damaged six coastal towns, 28 coastal barangays and affected 3,000 families, ABS-CBN News reported.

Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Coyme, PCG spokesman, said the oil has stretched up to 200 kilometers of the coastal area in Guimaras. He added that the oil leak has damaged 1,500 hectares of mangroves, sea grass and coral reefs.

The PCG has continued its clean-up operations to contain the slick, dragged by the northeast current through the strait, before it reaches the open waters of the Visayan Sea.

The government has sent two barges where the contained oil will be loaded.

Avelino Cruz, defense secretary and head of Task Force Guimaras, meanwhile, said officials have studied the possibility of using oil-eating bacteria in the clean-up operations.

Cruz visited Guimaras early Saturday to head the establishment of a mobile hospital for residents affected by the spill.

Agriculture Secretary Domingo Panganiban, meanwhile, said raising pigs is an alternative livelihood for residents whose means of livelihood is fishing.

Panganiban said at least four pigs will be given to each family in Nueva Valencia.

According to experts, the sunken oil tanker is only 650 meters underwater. The Fucoda Salvage and Marine Work Vessel said it will prioritize the containment of the oil before the retrieval of the vessel.

Since the tanker sank on August 11, 50,000 gallons of oil has leaked into the sea causing black sludge to be washed up on more than 300 kilometers of coastline on Guimaras. It has wrecked the island’s tourism industry and threatened the livelihood of hundreds of fishermen.

(Originally published on ABS-CBN News web site, Aug. 26, 2006.)

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