What went before: FPIC pipeline oil leak
In July 2010, oil seeped into the basement of the 22-story West Tower condominium in Barangay (village) Bangkal in Makati City, alarming residents in the area. The leak was eventually traced to five rice grain-sized holes in a portion of the 117-kilometer pipeline operated by First Philippine Industrial Corp. (FPIC), just meters away from the condominium.
The pipeline runs from Batangas to Manila, supplying more than 50 percent of the petroleum products for Pandacan, considered the largest and most important depot in the country.
The leak prompted the Makati City government to shut the building down and order the evacuation of all residents and businesses in the condominium. It also declared the area to be under a state of calamity.
In October 2010, FPIC admitted the leak in its pipeline and temporarily shut down the facility to give way to repairs. After a month, the company announced that it had plugged the holes.
A month later, the high tribunal, upon the petition of West Tower residents, issued a writ of kalikasan and ordered the indefinite closure of the white oil pipeline before it remanded the case to the appellate court.
The Department of Natural Resources (DENR) also announced that it was slapping FPIC with a “pollution fine” amounting to P24.2 million, which was computed based on the daily fine of P200,000 from the discovery of the leak to the time it was fixed.
In March 2011, residents filed a P2-billion damage suit against FPIC in the Makati Regional Trial Court. Also named as respondents were First Gen Corp., the firms’ board of directors and officers as well as officials of Shell and Chevron. Later on, residents also sued officials of FPIC and First Gen Corp. for criminal negligence in the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office.
After a series of hearings in the following month, the Senate committee on environment and natural resources said that it found FPIC liable for the leak and asked the company to provide “sufficient compensation” for affected residents.
In October 2011, the government’s Inter-Agency Committee on Environmental Health (IACEH) approved FPIC’s proposed system for the recovery and treatment of oil products that had seeped into the ground as a result of the leak. Three months later, the firm announced the start of its remediation efforts.
In April last year, the Department of Energy recommended the reopening of the FPIC pipeline after three tests confirmed its stability.—Inquirer Research
Source: Inquirer Archives
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