Mar tells contractor to speed up Iloilo oil spill clean up
MANILA, Philippines – Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas on Friday urged the private contractor hired for clean-up operations of the oil spill in Estancia, Iloilo, to work double-time to immediately contain the impact areas and keep the environmental damage to a minimum.
Roxas also advised local officials in Estancia to coordinate with regional officials of national government agencies to plan the permanent evacuation and resettlement to safer ground of families displaced by the oil spill.
“The three-month deadline imposed by the private contractor is not acceptable. The clean up should be completed the soonest time possible,” Roxas said.
Roxas, along with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, went to Estancia last Tuesday to conduct an inspection of the oil spill to affected communities and check the progress of the ongoing cleanup.
Because of the risks associated with exposure to oil spill, the Department of Health had recommended the immediate evacuation of 5,000 affected persons exposed to health risks from deadly fumes.
At least 446 families, or 1,892 persons, have been evacuated from Barangay Botongon who are now staying in classrooms and tents at Northern Iloilo Polytechnic College-West Campus about 2 kilometers from the oil-spill site.
The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. has contracted the Kuan Yu Global Technologies Inc. to siphon off the remaining oil from the tanker and to refloat the barge and tow it away. The work would cost P87 million.
Until last Wednesday, however, the coasts of Estancia remain covered with oil.
Roxas, the vice chair for disaster preparedness of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, expressed fear about the 1.2 million liters of bunker fuel oil that needs to be contained and immediately removed safely before it leaks out and causes further damage.
“Kung kinakailangang magdagdag ng tao, magdagdag. Kung kinakailangan ng kagamitan, kumuha. If there’s a will, there’s a way. Kung hindi kaya ng kontraktor, siguro humanap ng kaya ang trabaho,” he said.
He added that the company hired to clean-up the oil spill evidently lacks the manpower and equipment to do the job, resulting in its dismal performance.
About 200,000 liters of bunker fuel oil were spilt at the height of supertyphoon Yolanda when the Napocor power barge slammed on the coasts of Estancia, causing the massive oil spill last November 8.
Source: Philippine Star