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Cleanup ‘completed’ in 45 days; Senate pushes spill fund

August 28, 2006

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Senate President Manuel Villar takes a look at the hundreds of drums and plastic bags containing the oil-covered trash—dead animals and plants, mostly—gathered by fishermen-volunteers from the coastline of Barangay Tando, Nueva Valencia town in Guimaras Island, which continues to reel from the effects of a spreading oil slick from the sunken Solar 1, contracted by giant refiner Petron Corp. to ferry its bunker fuel. With Villar are Guimaras Rep. Eduardo Espinosa, Mayor Diosdado Gonzaga and a coast guard officer. —Roy Domingo/BM

OUR CAPTION: Saan ‘yung hundreds of drums and plastic bags? Another politico rides on a tragedy to score pogi points with voters. Sus.

RELYING more heavily on human hands than modern equipment, Petron reported it expects to complete the cleaning of the beaches of Guimaras in 45 days, using as basis its cleanup of 25 kilometers of shoreline under its Ligtas Guimaras program in about 14 days.

“We are employing 869 people from affected communities daily and we aim to increase this number in the coming days. We have also deployed about 5 percent of the total workforce of Petron to the work being done on the island,” said Petron chairman Nicasio I. Alcantara.

In any case, future oil spills may be more quickly dealt with than the slow-paced response to the massive Petron spill on August 11 should Congress approve the proposed “Ship Pollution Prevention Act of 2006” now being developed in the Senate by the Committee on Environment headed by Sen. Pia Cayetano-Sebastian.

She said a key provision of the bill is the section on the Oil Spill Liability Fund that will compensate for damage from oil spills on the ocean. Cayetano said financial support for the fund would be the collection from ships. “In this case, vessels that carry toxic substances like oil would be asked to contribute so that there will be a readily available fund to respond to emergency cases like an oil spill.”

The United Nations is extending, meanwhile, $16 million in aid to the Philippines for the cleanup and containment of the oil spill and rehabilitation of the affected areas. The UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) is providing emergency health kits, drugs, water-purifying tablets and some tarpaulin.

(Photo and story published in the Business Mirror, Aug. 28, 2006. Click here for the rest of the story. Link is good for today only.)

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