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‘Oil spill’ destroys mangrove plantation in Misamis Oriental

December 8, 2006

By Lino De La Cruz
The Philippine Star 12/08/2006

LUGAIT, Misamis Oriental — An oil spill of still unknown origin covering at least three square kilometers off the shores of this town was discovered the other day when the oil sheen reached the seashore and destroyed the mangrove plantation of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). It also caused a minor fishkill.

Earlier, a fisherman who cast his fishing net near the area was able to haul several kilos of assorted fish species that were already poisoned by the oil.

Municipal agriculture personnel and barangay authorities said they did not know where the “oil spill” came from but they theorized that this might have come from a passing ship or may have been thrown by some industrial plants ( a coconut oil refinery near this town).

“Fish and other marine life were destroyed by this “oil” which smells like copra or coconut oil” said a barangay official of Masilakon 2 of this town.

“The seawater is already blackened by the oil but we do not know who or what caused this” said a barangay official who expressed fear and even warned the people not to eat the fish caught near the area.

A caretaker of the DENR, Holcim Cement Plant and local government mangrove plantation and “bakhaw” rehabilitation in the coastal area of Barangay Masilakon said their efforts, time and money spent in the project are now gone after the “oil spill”.

Bobby Sajonia, operations manager of Holcim Cement Plant which is converting to fuel the recovered oil debris from the Guimaras oil spill, said the oil sheen, could not have come from the said oil debris which they are converting and using for fuel and added that definitely this did not come from the cement plant because they are not using oil and that they have already checked their vessels if any oil was thrown into the sea.

Sajonia said “This is still a mystery as to where the oil came from and it is moving westward.”

Last month, a barge carrying tons of oil debris recovered from the Guimaras oil spill sank off the coast of Plaridel town in Misamis Occidental. The oil debris was part of the shipment for Holcim Cement Plant to be converted to fuel.

DENR personnel and local authorities of the said town had not reported any sightings of oil sheen in the area where the barge sank.

Moreover, Lugait town, Barangay Masilakon officials and the DENR personnel have gathered samples of the affected seawater and sent this to the DENR Environmental Management Bureau in Cagayan de Oro City for laboratory testing.

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