Residents of 10 coastal areas may now return home

November 1, 2006

Panay News, Nov. 1, 2006

ILOILO City – Task Force Guimaras, also known as the Task Force Solar 1 Oil Spill, announced that 10 coastal areas in the island province have “safe” levels of hydrogen sulfide and that evacuees may already return to their homes.

Presidential Adviser for Western Visayas Rafael Coscolluela announced this during a press briefing at the Office of Civil Defense – National Disaster Coordinating Council in Camp Delgado yesterday.

In a report, the taskforce’s Team 1 said 10 coastal areas in Guimaras are now cleared of contaminated debris, and have 0.002 hydrogen sulfide reading.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) says the safe hydrogen sulfide level on ambient air must not exceed 0.07.

These areas are Sitios Lozaran, Sumirib in Brgy. La Paz, Brgy. Cabalagnan, Brgy. Alegria, Sitio Guisi in Brgy. Dolores, Basioa Cave, Brgy. Canhawan, Brgy. Igdarapdap, Brggy. Tando and Naoway Island.

Curiously, however, all its findings on the level of hydrogen sulfide in all these areas were pegged at 0.02. Coscolluela said a meter was used in conducting air ambient analysis of the areas, from October 6-20, 2006.

Also, the Department of Health (DOH) has yet to release a memorandum for the return of evacuees to their residence at shore – or from within the 100-meter buffer zone that was earlier set by the DOH.

“A clean bill of health is yet to be issued. We are still waiting for the analysis of sediments and shellfish in the areas,” Coscolluela told reporters.

On the other hand, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Regional Director Drusila Esther Ong emphasized that fishes caught in Guimaras waters are safe to eat and fishermen can go back to fishing.

The taskforce’s Team 1 is composed of Colet Juntarciego (Department of Environment and Natural Resources), Remia Aparri (Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources), Commander Malabadbad (Philippine Coast Guard), Dr. Joji Jimenez (Department of Health), Luz Limbaga (Department of Science and Technology), Joemarie Vargas (OPARD), Frank Laurelle (ITOPF), and Dr. Sheila Gumabong, Aida Calawigan and Leonad Pasideio (LGU).


I hope this isn’t a Halloween horror story. I reserve judgement on Lito Coscolluela’s announcement ’til we get an honest assessment from the environment and health departments. Boo!


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