CEBU CITY, Philippines—The oil leaking out of the St. Thomas of Aquinas, the passenger ferry that sank Friday evening off Talisay City after colliding with a cargo vessel, has reached five barangays (villages) of Cordova town.
In a press release, Dr. Isabelo Montejo, regional executive director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region VII, said the spill had affected the seawaters off the Cordova barangays of Gabi, Catarman and Day-as and was headed toward barangays Buagsong and Basbas.
The DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau in Central Visayas collected water samples from four sites in the accident area for oil and grease tests.
Montejo assigned the Coastal Marine Management Division of the Protected Area, Wildlife and Coastal Zone Management Services and Community Environment and Natural Resources Office of Cebu City to assess the damage to mangroves in the area.
The owner of the passenger vessel, 2GO Group Inc., in a press statement assured the public it was doing all it could to contain the oil spill that has come up to the shoreline of Talisay City and other areas.
The company has hired Malayan Towage, four Japanese technical divers and an expert from the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Ltd. (ITOPF) to help contain the spill.
Malayan Towage has deployed tugboats to Lawis Ledge, the site of the accident, while the Japanese technical divers are getting ready to inspect the scene underwater.
2GO said the ITOPF expert would be flying to Cebu to assess the situation.
The St. Thomas of Aquinas was carrying 20,000 liters of diesel, 120,000 liters of bunker or crude oil and 20,000 liters of lube oil. 2GO said the ferry was not carrying any volatile or dangerous cargo when it sank.
Cordova was placed under a state of calamity on Monday after the oil spill affected the livelihood of its fishermen. This would allow the town to use its calamity fund to assist the fishermen and their families.—Carine Asutilla