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DOH’s Guimaras report questioned

September 20, 2006

LAWMAKERS yesterday questioned the accuracy of the Department of Health’s report regarding the excessively high levels of hydrogen sulfide gas found in three Guimaras villages affected by the Aug. 11 oil spill.

Akbayan Rep. Loretta Ann Rosales, a member of the House ecology committee, said Congress will look into the veracity of the findings made by the DoH and University of the Philippines National Poison Management and Control Center that hydrogen sulfide concentrations ranged between 537.9 to 2,145 parts per million (ppm) in Barangay Cabalagnan and 13.2 to 165 ppm in La Paz. The village of Tando was also affected but the H2S level in the area was not declared.

The toxicity profile of hydrogen sulfide assigns “immediate danger to life and health limit” at 100 ppm while exposure to above 800 ppm levels is considered “lethal” within five minutes.

Rosales said the figures released by the DOH, if accurate, could kill the residents of the three barangays within a very short period.

“It raises the question of credibility on the part of the DOH in evaluating the measurement. Therefore, it must be reviewed by the experts because the department cannot be that irresponsible. It should be investigated and asked during the budget hearings. It will only cause more panic rather than solution,” she pointed out. “Nakakatawa tuloy tayo sa mata ng ibang bansa kung ganyan ng ganyan ang mangyayari.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Resurreccion Sadaba, head of the UP Visayas Division of Biological Sciences, yesterday said all efforts to clean up the oil spill will remain “futile” as long as the sunken oil tanker remains underwater.

(For the full story, click Guimaras report, Sept. 21, 2006.)

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