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Conflicting reports on oil spill cleanup

December 18, 2006

By Erly C. Garcia
The News Today, Dec. 18, 2006

WHILE Guimaras residents affected by the oil spill which occurred four months ago started receiving their compensation claims last week, certain sectors wanted Petron Corp. to return to the oil spill-affected areas to conduct further clean up operations.

Petron, in its Ligtas Guimaras web site, reported that as of the second week of November, it had cleaned 100 percent of affected shorelines, collecting around 6,000 metric tons of debris.

It said the report was validated by the inspections made by Task Force SOS (Solar 1 Oil Spill), a multi-agency group composed of officials from the local government units; the Departments of Health, Environment and Natural Resources, Social Welfare and Development; and the Philippine Coast Guard.

But Vicente Zerrudo, Task Force SOS coordinator, on December 6 informed Guimaras Gov. JC Rahman Nava that there are still traces of bunker oil in five villages of Nueva Valencia, Guimaras that needed to be cleaned up.

Zerrudo identified the five villages as barangays Lapaz, San Roque, Lucmayan, Tando and Cabalagnan. He reported the presence of thick bunker oil under the sand in said areas. He also reported that around 200 sacks of oily debris were abandoned by Petron in Sitio Sumirib, Brgy. Lapaz.

Zerrudo said bunker fuel also becomes vastly visible during low tide in certain areas.

He also noted that barangays Sebario, Igcauayan, Lebas, M. Chavez, Cabano, and Suclaran in San Lorenzo town were not totally cleaned of bunker oil.

In his letter to Gov. Nava, Zerrudo recommended that Petron resume its clean-up operation and concentrate on the areas where mangroves were totally affected.

Petron in its Ligtas Guimaras report said it has excluded mangrove areas in its clean-up operations “since we were advised by experts not to touch these highly sensitive ecosystems.

It said, the DENR, in coordination with the University of the Philippines-Visayas is overseeing the cleanup of the mangrove areas.

Meanwhile, the provincial government of Guimaras reported that it has yet to receive the P800 million financial aid that the national government had committed for its rehabilitation.

Last week, The News Today obtained information that part of funds intended for Guimaras was realigned to aid the typhoon victims in Albay.

Albay was badly devastated by supertyphoon Reming weeks ago.

In a related development, the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund (IOPCF) last week initially released some P2 million in compensation to Guimaras fisherfolk affected by the oil spill disaster.

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