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Oil spill scare hits Antique

February 28, 2007

By Francis Allan L. Angelo and Alex Carlo S. Magno
The Daily Guardian, 2007-02-28

RESIDENTS near a fish sanctuary in Pandan, Antique were alarmed upon seeing oil sludge on their coastline Tuesday morning, raising fears of another oil spill.

The sludge, which contaminated 10 meters of the shoreline, was discovered at Brgy. Patria, Pandan by Benny Ariowa, researcher of the Barangay Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (Bfarmc) which manages the two-hectare fishing sanctuary in the area.

Ariowa reported his find to municipal and police officials to verify if there was more oil sludge in other parts of the coastal village.

Jomar Pandungan and Efren Unlayaw of the Bfarmc, Pandan police chief Jose Particiala, municipal agriculture officer Ronald Sanchez, environment officer Arnold Demegillo and SB Member Emmanuel Junela conducted an investigation on the barangay.

It was later found out that the oil came from MT Django, a Metro Manila-based tugboat towing a barge loaded with heavy equipment and steel bars to General Santos City.

Commodore Luis Tuason, Coast Guard Western Visayas chief, said MT Django suffered engine problem, particularly on its camshaft, while passing by Patria Point Feb. 17.

“The tugboat is now anchored 550 meters off Patria Pt. while the camshaft is being repaired,” Tuason said.

The tugboat has nine crewmembers led by master Zacarias Punzalan. It is owned by a certain Leandro Jornales of Marikina City.

Reports from Pandan said crude oil leaked from the tugboat during the repair until it accumulated and reached the shoreline.

Tuason said Coast Guard personnel in Pandan and neighboring areas did not see oil slick in the vicinity of Brgy. Patria.

The Pandan municipal government and the Bfarmc are assessing the situation of the sanctuary to find out the liability of the tugboat operator.

Last year, MT Solar 1 which was loaded with bunker oil owned by Petron Corp. sank near Guimaras province, contaminating shorelines, mangrove areas, fishing grounds and seaweed farms.

A barge owned by the National Power Corp. also ran aground near Semirara Island December 2005 spilling 300,000 liters of bunker oil into the sea.

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