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Oil siphoning timetable sought

September 22, 2006

BY CARLA GOMEZ
Visayan Daily Star
Sept. 21, 2006

PETRON must give a specific timetable for the siphoning out of the bunker fuel from the sunken MT Solar 1 off the coast of Guimaras, Negros Occidental Gov. Joseph Marañon said yesterday.

Jose Campos, Petron vice president for marketing, said in a letter to the governor earlier that “You can be assured that we will pursue the removal of the remaining oil with the Protection and Indemnity Club and the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund. We will not rest until the environmental threat is eliminated.”

Marañon said while it was good to hear that Petron will pursue the removal of the fuel, he will write the firm again to ask that a definite timetable be set.

MT Solar 1 with 2.1 million liters of bunker fuel sank on Aug. 11 causing an oil spill that has hit the coasts of Guimaras and Iloilo.

Valladolid Mayor Ricardo Presbitero said that until the sunken fuel is removed, people of the coastal towns of Negros Occidental cannot let their guard down as they may also be hit by an oil spill from MT Solar 1.

The demand of the officials of Negros led by the governor is unconditional, Petron must remove the sunken bunker fuel immediately, he said.

“Until the threat is removed, our lives will not return to normal,” Presbitero said.

He said that President Arroyo visited Guimaras three times but the removal of the sunken fuel is still uncertain and the problems of those in Guimaras affected by the oil spill appear to be increasing.

He also said there is talk about a Petron PR fund to condition the minds of the people about the removal of the sunken fuel, but said this was based on speculation.

Meanwhile, he said Valladolid is continuing its preparations to ward off a possible oil spill.

“We will conduct our first oil spill drill on Friday but instead of participants gathering oil, they will be picking up garbage,” he said.

Health Regional Director Lydia Depra Ramos yesterday also stressed the need for Petron to remove the oil spill debris to reduce the threat on the health of the people.

She said that in Guimaras, from 20 to 45 patients a day are treated by DOH personnel for respiratory track infection, while the number of gastro intestinal cases are lower.

“As long as the oil spill debris remains, the people should be vigilant and follow DOH advisories,” she said.

She said those allowed to participate in the work on oil spill in Guimaras should only work five hours a day if they have the proper protective gear, and are between 20 to 50 years.

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