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Rehab of marine life could take 10 to 20 years – expert

September 4, 2006

GUIMARAS ISLAND – Even as residents of this island grappled with the loss of their livelihood, diseases and pungent fumes from bunker fuel along their shores, the magnitude of the oil spill’s real damage and impact on the environment and rich marine life has yet to be determined.

Scientists from the University of the Philippines in the Visayas (UPV) said the rehabilitation and the recovery of marine life contaminated by the oil slick could take between 10 to 20 years.

“”Ten years is too short for recovery and it will not be to the pre-oil spill status,” said Dr. Resurreccion Sadaba, head of the UPV task force conducting an assessment of the extent of damage to the environment and the community.

The research team is composed mostly of scientists who conducted a similar study on Semirara Island in Antique province after a power barge of National Power Corp. ran aground off the coast of the island last December spilling more than 300,000 liters of oil.

The UPV is also part of task group of scientists and government agencies formed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to conduct a safety assessment of the air, soil and water in the oil-spill affected areas on this island.

Sadaba, an expert on mangroves, said the island’s mangrove trees bore the brunt of the oil spill.

Bunker fuel has coated much of mangrove trees because the oil slick hit the shoreline during the high tide.

Sadaba said this would cause greater stress to mangroves because the bunker fuel blocks their lenticels or breathing pores. The trees could suffocate and eventually die.

(Click Rehab, Sept. 4, 2006.)

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