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Oil spill contingency plan revision proposed

August 12, 2007

BY NESTOR P. BURGOS JR.
Visayan Daily Star, Aug. 11, 2007

LOILO CITY – Have we learned from last year’s massive oil spill that struck Guimaras? Are we better prepared to deal with a similar crisis?

A year after the M/T Solar I sank off Guimaras Island and spilled 2 milion liters of bunker fuel, major reforms in the country’s capacity to respond to similar incidents have not been institutionalized.

Commodore Luis Tuason Jr., Coast Guard commander in Western Visayas, said the Coast Guard has not completed drafting a revised National Oil Spill Contingency Plan.

He said the NOSCP should be based on a comprehensive framework in dealing with oil spill disasters drawing valuable lessons from the Petron oil spill. Outgoing Presidential Adviser for Western Visayas Rafael Coscolluela, head of the regional Task Force Solar I Oil Spill, said there was a need to revise the NOSCP especially in dealing with pollution and contamination of the shoreline.

Coscolluela said the incident highlighted the need to institute major reforms including legislation to effectively respond to and address similar disasters in the future.

“Our experience showed that we were not prepared to deal with an oil spill especially of the magnitude that struck Guimaras,” Coscolluela said.

He also said that there was “much haphazard response by victims, well-meaning volunteers and officials.”

The crisis also showed that there was little or lack of understanding on the various agencies’ mandates, responsibilities, relationships and protocols, according to Coscolluela.

Aside from revising the NOSCP, Coscolluela recommended the following measures: Train and equip all responders and vulnerable communities; Provide needed resources in strategic stations ready for immediate mobilization and response; Ensure effective, consistent, credible communication; Redefine mandates and functions of concerned agencies through legislative review and revision; Clarify responsibilities of cargo owners and shippers; and Focus on maritime safety, effective regulation and accident prevention.

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