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Investor backs out in wake of Petron barge sinking

November 24, 2006

By Lino Dela Cruz
Iligan Correspondent
SunStar, Nov. 24, 2006

ILIGAN CITY – A prospective investor in the local tourism industry had reportedly backed out after the sinking four days ago of a barge carrying oil debris from the sunken oil tanker in Guimaras, 3.16 nautical miles off the municipal coast.

The investor has planned to put up a beach resort in Plaridel town, Misamis Occidental.

Plaridel town Mayor Edelmar Bulatin said the investor backed out for fear of lasting pollution due to the sinking of barge LCT Ras, which carried some 35,000 sacks of oil debris from the sunken oil tanker Solar 1 in Guimaras last September this year.

The barge was being towed by the tugboat Vega when rough seas and big waves caused it to sink.

Maritime authorities said the seawaters could have entered the barge’s hatch and triggered the sinking.

The coastline facing Panguil Bay in Misamis Occidental is known for its scenic beaches.

Local officials in Oroquieta town said they recovered an oil absorbent apparently coming from the sunken vessel and they fear that an estimated 4,000 fishermen along the province’s coasts will be affected.

Bulatin said even as the oil coming from the Guimaras oil spill is already weathered and absorbed by the sand, rocks, and absorbents packed in jute sacks that was loaded in the sunken barge. The jute sacks will eventually be destroyed and the seawaters contaminated.

Government authorities and environmental groups are now in the area to gather seawater samples that will be brought to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Environmental Management Board in Northern Mindanao.

On the other hand, the environment groups and the local government of Plaridel are now planning to file a criminal case against Petron, the oil shipper, and Harbor Star, the carrier.

Meanwhile, Holcim Cement, in Lugait, Misamis Oriental, which is utilizing the oil debris from the Guimaras oil spill, assured the public that the process they are using in utilizing the oil derived from the debris for the cement plant’s fuel will not harm the environment.

Bobby Sajonia, plant manager, said the driftwoods, rocks and sands where oil is absorbed are separated and not burned and the burning and emission are controlled.

“The emission is still below the allowable standard.” Sajonia said.

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