Coast Guard, DENR debate on use of dispersants in oil hit mangroves

November 12, 2006

NATIONAL Disaster Coordinating Council chair Avelino Cruz and Task Force Solar 1 Oil Spill head Rafael Coscolluela last night directed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to issue an advisory that would ban any interventions and remediation measures to save the Guimaras mangroves not cleared with the DENR through the Regional Bio-Safety Committee.

The directive was issued after a reporting session on the status of oil-spill cleanup operations in Guimaras at the Department of National Defense last night turned into a debate between the Philippine Coast Guard on the one hand, and the DENR/World Wide Fund on the other, Cocolluela said.

MT Solar 1 that sank with 2.1 million liters of Petron bunker fuel in August caused an oil spill that has hit the coasts of Guimaras and its mangroves.

Concerned about dying mangrove trees in oil-affected areas, PCG Commander Allen Toribio pushed for the application of a “diluted dispersant/high-pressure water sprayer” combination as an effective way of saving affected mangrove trees, Coscolluela said.

DENR Undersecretary Manual Gerochi, WWF’s Lory Tan and other NDCC members objected, citing the absence of documented proof that the method actually worked as reported by Toribio, who cited their Semirara experience, he added.

The scientific community, according to Tan, was particularly concerned about the effect of dispersants on the marine food chain which might be adversely affected to the extent that fish populations would be reduced.

Such a scenario demanded that any such applications should be properly subjected to controlled field trials in carefully selected sites, Coscolluela said.

At the very least, Department of Science and Technology Secretary Estrella Fabela Alabastro and Department of Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla said, the trials should pass the Environment Impact Assessment process mandated under DENR rules, Cosoclluela added.

The debate ended with the PCG’s Vice Admiral Gosingan accepting the proposed “no study, no touch” policy on condition that the DENR accept responsibility for any further mangrove mortalities, he said.

Coscolluela said the DENR advisory they directed would also seek to enlighten an equally-concerned public by explaining why such precautionary measures were deemed necessary.

Cruz and Coscolluela also called for field trials to test other measures that might be better options.

An appropriate statement is expected soon from DENR Regional Director Julian Amador, who heads the local bio-safety review committee, Coscolluela added. (Carla P. Gomez, Visayan Daily Star, Nov. 8, 2006)



  1. We are the manufacturers of the unique Adsorb-it Filtration Fabric that has the ability to remove oil and oil sheen from flowing waters. If our Adsorb-it fiultration Fabric Products were installed adjacent to the spill area, the tidal action would cause oily water to pass through the Adsorb-it and the oil and oil sheen would be removed. After passing through Adsorb-it the residual oil in the water would be between 2 and 4 parts per million.
    We also manufacture dispersants for environmental cleanup (EnviroMech Gold) and I would strongly suggest that a dispersant not be used in this application because the oils would then be in suspension in the water column and this would cause the destruction of additional fish populations and other marine life.

  2. I’m sure the government officials and Petron execs monitoring this blog will be able to read your comment. Let’s hope they pay attention.

    Thanks for visiting this site.

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