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Guimaras cleanup put on hold

November 12, 2006

DISASTER authorities said on Wednesday that clean-up operations of mangrove areas on Guimaras Island that were severely hit by oil spill have been temporarily put on hold.

This came after concerns raised by scientists from the state-run University of the Philippines-Visayas that chemical dispersants used could damage the mangroves and marine life in the surrounding areas.

Rafael Coscolluela, presidential adviser for Western Visayas, said in a briefing in Camp Aguinaldo that cleanup would resume once there is an assurance that experts have determined a safe method.

He said that scientists would need to conduct tests for at least three months to determine if the chemical dispersants which the Coast Guard originally intended to use are safe for the mangroves and marine life.

Coscolluela confirmed that some 20 percent of the 120 hectares of mangroves on the island have died from the oil spill caused by the sinking of M/T Solar 1 on August 11.

The chemical dispersants that the Coast Guard was planning to use were the same one that were used during the cleanup of the recent Se­mirara oil. Coscolluela said, however, that scientists were yet to determine whether the chemical dispersants would leave ill effects on the environment, specially on marine life in the surrounding areas on Guimaras. (Anthony Vargas, Manila Times, Nov. 10, 2006)

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