Palace mulls plan to move oil depot out of Pandacan

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Secretary Edwin Lacierda. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–As Manila grappled with a gas spill in the Pasig River from a small depot, Malacañang confirmed on Monday that it was reviewing a controversial proposal to transfer the oil depots out of Pandacan.

“That issue has reached the Office of the President,’’ Secretary Edwin Lacierda said in a briefing.

“That’s being studied by the Office of the Executive Secretary, and we will let you know what will be the results of that study,” he said.

Lacierda said the review would factor in concerns raised by some oil companies that the transfer would increase transport costs and trigger oil price increase.

“That consideration and other incidents will be studied as a result of the appeal taken by the City of Manila to the Office of the President,’’ he said.

In September last year, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim vetoed the ordinance calling for the closure of the Pandacan oil depot, saying the move might give a “bad impression’’ on businesses and investors.

Lim based his decision on the recommendations of the city legal officer Renato de la Cruz and secretary to the mayor, Rafaelito Garayblas.

The veto came a month after the council passed Ordinance 8283 reclassifying the area from industrial to a commercial zone, paving the way for the closure of the depot which is under the category of heavy industrial.

Thousands of liters of bunker fuel spilled Saturday night from the storage tank of a small depot, causing panic among residents and sending at least four people to the hospital due to “breathing difficulties.’’

The gas spill took place in a depot at 2657 Old Panadero Street along the Pasig River near the Lambingan Bridge. The spill came from one of the storage tanks with a busted pipe.

Lacierda also said that it was the job of oil depots to update their safety measures to prevent any untoward incident.

“I think the oil companies have the responsibility and the technical know-how to ensure the safety of their oil depot. It is their loss if such a case (explosion) happens and so their primary responsibility is to make sure that safety measures are implemented in those areas,’’ he said.

“I think the safety measures can be updated … I believe that’s their obligation,’’ he added.

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