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Oil spill sickens 707

September 6, 2006

By DAVID ISRAEL SINAY
Panay News, Sept. 6, 2006

ILOILO City – The Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC) reported a total of 707 persons with oil spill related diseases / symptoms.

Twenty-five days after M/T Solar 1 sank in the Panay Gulf resulting in the spillage of more than 300,000 liters of bunker fuel contaminating the air, shorelines and the sea, RDCC reported 677 sick persons in Guimaras and 30 in Iloilo province.

Department of Health (DOH) Regional Director Lydia Depra-Ramos disclosed that these were caused by inhalation of fumes (of the bunker fuel on the oil slick that reached the shores of affected coastal barangays), direct contact with the oil slick /bunker fuel, gastro-intestinal symptoms, pneumonitis, and that the odor (of the bunker fuel) aggravates the condition of asthmatic residents.

As of yesterday, the RDCC reported that persons with oil spill-related symptoms came from Nueva Valencia, Sibunag and San Lorenzo towns in Guimaras; others came from Ajuy and Concepcion towns in the province of Iloilo.

Aside from this, the Guimaras Provincial Hospital has diagnosed (from August 16 to 30) cases of chemical pneumonitis, rhinitis, and asthma due to working directly at the oil spill affected area, and inahaltion of bunker oil fumes; acute gastritis and gastroenteritis due to intake of bunker oil contaminated fish; and contact dermatitis due to contact with bunker oil while on sea shore.

According to Ramos evacuation of affected residents is still ongoing.

In Guimaras, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Region 6) declared the fish caught from the Guimaras Strait and Panay Gulf, safe to eat.

According to Drusila Ong, regional director, samples of almost 20 species of fish caught from the Iloilo- Guimaras Strait were analyzed using the sensory and gas chromatography method. It was found out that the fishes were not hazardous to eat.

Ong said the method they used was introduced by the Management of Seafood Safety of the Response and Restoration Division of the Nation Oceanic Atmosphere Administration, USA Department of Commerce.

The fish examined were negative of bunker oil, Ong said. “It means that they are all safe to eat,” she stressed.

Ong said fish samples like sap-sap, lapu-lapu and kasag among others were taken from fish landing sites of every town of Iloilo.

Ong said shells from shorelines contaminated with the bunker oil are the ones very dangerous to human health and thus must not be eaten. With Montesa Griño

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