Gov’t races to contain oil spill
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is assessing the impact of the oil spill from the ill-fated MV St. Thomas Aquinas, which may not be limited to Mactan Island if not mitigated, but could also affect the migratory birds in nearby Olango Island.
DENR 7 Regional Executive Director Isabelo Montejo, said also included in their assessment is to determine who will be liable for the oil spill.
St. Thomas Aquinas of 2Go Travel sunk after colliding with Sulpicio Express Siete of Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp. (Psacc) in Lawis Ledge off the coast of Talisay City around 9 p.m. last Friday.
Aside from giving attention to the search, rescue and retrieval operations, Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III ordered Capitol to also focus containing the oil spill that has affected Cordova town and Lapu Lapu City in Mactan Island, and Talisay and Mandaue cities in mainland Cebu.
After declaring the province under a state of calamity, Danilo Rodas, provincial budget officer said Capitol is ready to release P32.8 million from the province’s Disaster Risk Reduction Management Fund or calamity fund. This represents 30 percent of the P108 million calamity fund for 2013.
The Provincial Social Welfare Office has already sent a million worth of ready-to-eat food to fisherfolks in the affected localities as the oil spill has prevented them from venturing to the sea for livelihood.
Aside from destroying new and old-growth mangroves, Montejo is worried that migratory birds may be affected by the oil spill.
“Mangroves die if contacted with oil slick as their breathing organs or pneumatophores will be affected as it limits the entry of carbon dioxide needed for its growth and development,” Montejo explained.
Montejo also lamented on the effects of the oil spill on the sea grasses of Olango Island. “Sea grasses are very important in this area because migratory birds coming from the north to south are feeding on these sea grasses,” he added.
Eight barangays in Cordova were already mapped out and more than 500 hectares affected were already indicated. After the assessment on mangrove plantations, assessment on coral reefs will follow, Montejo said.
Environment Management Bureau 7 Regional Director William Cuñado said that they have already collected nine water samples at the accident site and in areas in Cordova to be subjected for oil and grease examination.
The water samples collected were under the swimming and fish propagation category wherein the standard is two milligrams per liter.
The subject of the water quality monitoring is to also determine whether the water is safe for bathing.
The current spreading of oil spill is also considered as a loss on the economy, according to Montejo.“With the current condition, it would degrade the quality of our swimming area and would also affect our market industry,” Montejo added.
Montejo also said that they have coordinated with the Department of Tourism where several measures have been undertaken by resorts and hotels to prevent the oil spill from spreading towards their area./with reports from Peter L. Romanillos and Gabriel C. Bonjoc