La Union board declares calamity state to deal with oil spill

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10:50 PM March 1st, 2013

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March 1st, 2013 10:50 PM

WORKERS and volunteers help remove oil sludge from the shores of Candon City. LEONCIO BALBIN/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

DAGUPAN CITY—The provincial board of La Union has declared the province under a state of calamity to enable towns affected by the oil spill supposedly from a sunken vessel or another ship to tap their calamity funds for cleanup operations.

La Union Gov. Manuel Ortega said communities, various agencies and nongovernment organizations have been collaborating to remove chunks of hardened oil that have been spotted on La Union beaches.

Many believe the oil sludge came from the Myanmar vessel MV Harita Bauxite, which sank off Bolinao town in Pangasinan last week. Others suspect it came from an unidentified cargo vessel, which docked near Bangar town in La Union, on Sunday.

The sludge has affected beaches along Pangasinan and the Ilocos provinces.

But reports on the oil spill have not discouraged tourists from visiting the Ilocos, the provincial information and tourism office said, adding that it has not received notifications of room cancellations from beach resort operators.

“Some people even signified intentions to come to La Union and participate in the cleaning,” said a text message sent by the La Union Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants Management Association.

Nestor Domenden, Ilocos director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, said the agency has collected samples of seaweeds and seashells from areas affected by the oil spill for examination.

He said marine life generally moves away from oil spill areas and will be affected only if the oil is widespread and thick enough to bar light from penetrating through surface water. Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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