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UNDP: Manual cleanup a health risk to locals

September 5, 2006

AFTER losing their jobs last month to the country’s worst oil spill, Guimaras fishermen now face great health risks from their temporary work of removing bunker oil using their bare hands, GMANews.TV learned from an official of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Tuesday.

“People do not have the right equipment. Lack of proper equipment and technical capacity would have no impact in the cleanup,” Shohei Matsura, UNDP Philippines program officer for the environment, told GMANews.TV in a phone interview.

Matsura urged the Philippine government and international donors to pay attention to the potential health problems arising from the lack of sophisticated equipment and systems in the cleanup.

UNDP has recently pledged support in the cleanup of the country’s worst maritime disaster, committing US$100,000 or about P5 million for environmental impact assessment and development of alternative livelihood for affected communities.

UNDP partners with the environment department and the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) for the impact assessment, Matsura said.

The MT Solar I sank off the southern coast of Guimaras on August 11 after battling rough waves. More than 200,000 liters of the vessel’s 2.2 million-liter cargo of bunker oil spilled into the sea since then.

(Click Manual, Sept. 5, 2006, for the rest of the story.)

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