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Slick now in Iloilo; threatens Sulu Sea

September 2, 2006

By Ruby P. Silubrico

ILOILO CITY—RESIDENTS who are living along the shoreline of Arevalo and Molo districts are now worried that the city beaches will be affected after the oil sludge has been spotted in six coastal villages here.

Winds blowing toward the southwest could also bring the oil spill in Guimaras to Sulu Sea in Mindanao if the cleanup is not finished soon, weather bureau PAGASA said Saturday.

Police Regional Office-Western Visayas director Geary Barias Friday confirmed the reported slick in Iloilo beaches based on information from the Philippine Coast Guard. The latter reported that two districts are affected by the spill: in Molo these are San Juan, Boulevard and Calumpang, while those in Arevalo, are Sto. Niño Sur, Sto Niño Norte, and Calaparan.

The residents noticed a brownish greasy substance on the water.

With this, fisherfolks and residents fear that their livelihood would be affected as well as the beaches.

The City Government, through Mayor Jerry Treñas quickly acted to prevent the oil spill from the sunken M/T Solar 1 tanker to reach the city’s waters.

In a press conference in Quezon City Saturday, Dr. Prisco Nilo, PAGASA deputy said, “Currently, southwest ang direction ng hangin…[it might] transport the oil spill to Mindanao.

He added that clean-up operations should be expedited since PAGASA forecasts no typhoon entering the Philippine area of responsibility this month.

The cleanup has been ongoing since M/T Solar 1 sank off the coast of Guimaras on August 11. The slick has reached neighboring islands.

Authorities said the vessel was carrying two million liters of bunker oil when it capsized and has released some 270,000 liters into the sea.

The Coast Guard, meanwhile, said an underwater probe sent from a Japanese survey vessel reported that the leak from the Solar 1’s cargo hold could be considered minor.

“The oil sheen that [is] being observed in the area of the [sunken] ship was only a thin line on the surface, which indicates that the release of oil is very, very minor,” said Vice-Admiral Arthur Gosingan, Coast Guard chief.

(For the full stories, click Sunstar and ABS-CBN, Sept. 2, 2006. Also Sulu.)

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