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Mayor: No to dumping of oil sludge

October 14, 2006

By Francis Allan L. Angelo
The Guardian, Oct. 14, 2006

DEFINITELY NO!

This was the reaction of Mayor Diosdado Gonzaga of Nueva Valencia, Guimaras upon learning of the proposal to bury the remaining oil sludge in the island province.

Nueva Valencia residents also showed proof that their shorelines are far from clean and safe, contrary to pronouncements of disaster managers.

Nueva Valencia is the town hit hardest by the oil spill with 12 villages contaminated by bunker fuel that leaked from the sunken M/T Solar 1 of Sunshine Maritime Development Corp., a hauler for Petron Corp.

Gonzaga said they have been consistent on their stand that not a sack of oily debris should remain in the island due to health and environmental concerns.

Presidential adviser for Western Visayas Rafael Lito Coscolluela earlier said he is considering the possibility of dumping the oily debris in the island just like in Semirara Island in Antique.

Coscolluela said the move will be an experiment of sorts for future oil spills if the scientific community approves the said approach.

Coscolluela added that dumping the oil sludge is more practical than shipping it out on board rented barges “provided the oil is handled well.”

But Gonzaga resented the idea of making their island as a guinea pig for disposal methods in cases of oil spills.

Unlike the sparsely-populated Semirara Island, Gonzaga said their town has more residents “thus the presence of the debris here is a great concern for us.”

Nueva Valencia has more than 30,000 residents based on the 2000 census.

“The sludge could affect our water sources and the immediate surroundings. Since day one of this disaster, we have urged the government and all those involved to ship out the collected sludge. Definitely, we will not allow them to bury their trash here,” Gonzaga said.

Earlier, Guimaras Governor JC Rahman Nava also opposed the Petron’s proposal to dump or burn the sludge in the island province.

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