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WWF: Act now on sunken MT Solar 1 or face more suits

September 9, 2006

BY CARLA GOMEZ

THE president of the World Wide Fund-Philippines, Lorenzo Tan, yesterday warned that if the remaining bunker fuel on board the sunken MT Solar 1 is not removed soon, the culprits could face suits, not only from Guimaras, but from Palawan, Negros Occidental and Mindanao.

Tan told the DAILY STAR their satellite photos show that everyday, fresh oil is coming out of the sink site off the coast of Guimaras.

Gov. Joseph Marañon yesterday also said he has written to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the head of the National Disaster Coordinating Council, Secretary Avelino Cruz, informing them of the unconditional demand of Negros Occidental, for the removal of the sunken tanker.

Jose Campos, Petron vice president for marketing, this week said that, of the 2.19 million liters of bunker of fuel on board the MT Solar 1 that sank on Aug. 11 about 1.8 to 1.9 million liters is still at the bottom of the sea.

“As long as that oil is there, we will not relax and will be on alert 24 hours a day because it remains a threat to the shores of Negros Occidental,” Marañon said.

He said if Negros does not get an assurance in two days of a timetable and an action plan for the removal of the bunker fuel fuel it will make more noise.

SP RESOLUTIONS

He also said Negros Occidental will assist Guimaras, if needed, in filing a suit against the oil spill culprits.

The Bacolod and Negros Occidental Sanggunians this week passed resolutions demanding the removal of the bunker fuel in the MT Solar 1.

The Bacolod SP called on the national government to hold Petron accountable for the immediate salvaging of MT Solar 1 and the removal of its bunker fuel before it causes more damage.

Tan pointed out that their satellite photos show that everyday fresh oil is coming out of the sink site off the coast of Guimaras despite assurance that the valves of the containers on board the tanker had been tightened by a robotic arm of the Remote Operated Vehicle of the Japanese survey ship Shinsei Maru.

“Thankfully, Presidential Adviser for Western Visayas (Rafael) Coscolluela has disclosed that reports from vessels on site indicate that it is merely sheen, and not a thick slick,” Tan said.

ELIMINATE NEW THREATS

“However, whatever the case may be, this underscores the need to make a decision very soon on how to eliminate all the remaining oil that seems to continue behaving like a time-release capsule. All new oil, whether sheen or slick, must be made to stop surfacing and all new threats must be eliminated.” he said.

Any suggestion that does not completely eliminate this threat, cannot be considered a serious option, he added.

Tan said he echoes the warning of Gerry Ledesma, president of the Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, that that this must be done before the “habagat” wind shifts to “amihan” winds, which may happen in two months.

SULU SEA, TOO

“If the needed action is delayed, and the oil continues to leak, the northern Sulu Sea is possibly at risk. Such a possibility could be disastrous both for fishing communities – and possibly, for the insurance company,” he said

Although it is not likely right now, if the “amihan” follows its normal behavior, the Sulu Sea may be threatened. This ecosystem, with the world heritage site, Tubbataha, at its core, seeds coral reefs and habitats that give life to fisheries along eastern Palawan, and possibly as far as western Mindanao, western Negros, Western Panay and Western Mindoro, he said.

DAMAGE CLAIMS MINUSCULE

“The damage claims the insurance company now faces in Guimaras will be minuscule, compared to what they may face if the Solar 1 oil is picked up by the currents of the Sulu Sea and, driven by the amihan,” he said.

This is an urgent concern that must reach the experts on Shinsei Maru, and the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds, he said.

Meanwhile, spill sightings were reported four kilometers from the coast of Silay City in Negros Occidental yesterday morning, the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council reported.

They were 50 meters wide and 1.5 kilometers in length, the PDMT said.

(From the Vis. Daily Star, Sept. 9, 2006.)

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IS that really you Lory Tan? Hallelujah! There is a God!
0:-)

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