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‘Cleanup’ of oil spill poses more health hazards

October 24, 2006

Inquirer, Oct. 24, 2006

THIS is in reference to the news item on the admission of Petron Corp. that they were given instructions to just cover the traces of MT Solar 1 oil spill on Guimaras Island. (Inquirer, 10/19/06)

I was in Guimaras late August and saw with my own eyes what the workers reported. When I visited the village of La Paz in Nueva Valencia town, for example, I noticed that something was wrong with the way the shore looked then: The stretch near the water was black with sludge, while the inner stretch was white with sand. When I dug a few inches into the white sand, I uncovered black sludge underneath. Even the black oil stain on the breakwater was painted over.

Worse, in the island village of Guiwanon in Nueva Valencia, recovered oil sludge and contaminated debris were dumped and buried in an uncontaminated farmland near the shore.

It is deplorable that those who were responsible for the oil spill – an accident, they claimed – would have no qualms about exposing the affected communities to more health hazards by merely sweeping the contamination under the rug, so to speak. We wonder what could happen should the affected areas be finally declared clean after this sweep-the-dirt-under-the-rug method of cleanup.

Where is justice here? After the worst disaster ever to hit the Guimarasnons, an attempt is apparently being made to fool them. Petron must face up to their responsibility by doing a thorough cleanup of the oil spill.

–REY PALACIO, coordinator, Research & Public Information, Citizens’ Disaster Response Center, West Triangle Homes, Quezon City

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