I-TEAM REPORT: Sprays vs oil slick raise alarm bells

September 25, 2006

Chemical dispersants peril Guimaras marine life

By Leila Salaverria, TJ Burgonio

(First of a series)

THE PHILIPPINE COAST Guard’s use of chemical dispersants to clean up the worst oil spill in the nation’s history has caused alarm among environmentalists who fear that it may cause more harm than good to marine life.

Since the MT Solar I sank in choppy waters off Guimaras Island on Aug. 11 and dumped into the sea an estimated half of the 2.19 million liters of industrial fuel oil it was carrying, the Coast Guard has sprayed 115,600 liters of dispersants in a bid to contain the damage.

The operation 24 km off Guimaras continues as small amounts of oil continue to trickle out of the tanker lying at the bottom of the sea.

Task Force Guimaras, headed by Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz Jr., has yet to make a final decision on a plan to siphon off the remaining cargo of oil the vessel was ferrying for Petron from Limay, Bataan, to Zamboanga del Sur.

PCG officials acknowledged that the chemical dispersants could have adverse effects but said their use prevented far greater damage because they stopped the oil from reaching land and damaging more marine resources.

Already, a significant amount of slick had lapped at the coastal areas of Guimaras and Iloilo provinces, coating mangroves, animals, rocks and tourist resorts with a black sludge.

(For the full story, click Alarm bells , Sept. 25, 2006.)


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