Study, tests needed on oil spill affected areas-A A +A
Saturday, August 31, 2013
A SCIENTIFIC assessment of the effects of the oil spill may cost millions of pesos, but it is a necessity.
Dr. Resurreccion Sadaba, manager of the University of the Philippines-Visayas, said a rapid assessment of the affected area will determine, among others, how many mangroves died because of the oil spill and if the oil-contaminated soil is highly toxic.
The rapid assessment will also identify the best possible actions to address the oil spill.
Sadaba also urged the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to immediately submit samples of the seawater, sediment, fish and other organisms in affected areas to be tested for total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
PAH are known to cause cancer so seafood with high levels of PAH is not safe to eat.
The oil spill was caused by the sinking of mv St. Thomas Aquinas of 2Go Travel following a collision with Sulpicio Express Siete last Aug. 16.
The collision’s death toll rose to 98 as of 5 p.m. yesterday, according to the bulletin at the incident command post in the Talisay City fish port. Most of the bodies were recovered inside mv St. Thomas Aquinas of 2Go Travel.
Provincial Disaster and Risk-Reduction Management Council head Neil Sanchez said 56 bodies have been identified while 35 have yet to be identified. Fifty-two bodies were already released from the funeral parlor as of yesterday.
In a command conference with the Cebu City-led incident response group at City Hall, Sadaba said UPV has the facility to conduct tests for PAH and TPH. “It’s a little costly but not as expensive as sending the samples to the Czech Republic,” he added.
He said that in the Solar 1 oil spill in Guimaras in 2006, the rapid assessment cost about P7 million and ran from two to three months.
But the oil spill in Guimaras involved about 2.3 million liters of fuel oil while mv St. Thomas Aquinas reportedly carried only about 160,000 liters (160 tons) of fuel and lube oil.
Sadaba told the Incident Management Team (IMT) at the Capitol and Cebu City command conference at City Hall yesterday that the mv St. Thomas Aquinas oil spill was “a lot less worse” than the one in Guimaras.
“But it doesn’t mean we should not be concerned,” he said.
Sadaba was contacted by 2GO to inform concerned nation and local government officials about the oil spill and right response actions to the incident.
The IMT and Cebu City officials did not make any commitments on where to source the funds for the rapid assessment.
Sadaba, who will also speak to Cordova officials today, discouraged people from planting mangroves while the oil continues to leak out of the sunken vessel.
He said mangrove propagules will just die if there is still oil and the soil is still toxic.
The Cebu City Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (LDRRMC) yesterday placed another 50-meter oil spill boom at the boundary with Talisay City after reports that the oil spill has reached the coastal barangays of the neighboring city.
LDRRMC operation officer Alvin Santillana said the oil spill boom will protect the more than five to six hectares of mangroves in Barangays Inayawan, Cogon Pardo, and Basak San Nicolas.
Today, the LDRRMC will placed another oil spill boom off the coast of Barangay Duljo Fatima.
In Talisay, Felipa Solana of the City Social Welfare Office said they will give P500 as financial aid to about 2,000 fishermen and fish vendors whose livelihoods have been hurt by the oil spill.
She said her office has a list of beneficiaries but the City Accounting has yet to approve the release of the funds.
She denied reports that some fisherfolk in Barangay Tanke already received financial
Manila Archbishop-Emeritus Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales yesterday offered his sympathies to the families of those who died in the recent sea accident near Talisay City and called on government officials to institute measures to stop sea tragedies.
“Naluoy ko sa mga nabiktima ug sa ilang pamilya. Siguro naay mensahe diri nga kinahanglan atimanon pag-ayo ang kining safety sa marine travel (I pity the victims and their families. I think it is high time to ensure safety in maritime travel),” he told reporters yesterday.
Rosales lamented that the collision involved a company that has been involved in previous sea mishaps.
“Unfortunately, there are companies that have been involved again and again. I think all political considerations should be put aside. Saving lives should be more important,” he said.
“All connections should be put aside. It will hurt some people engaged in the marine industry, but we are after the safety of everyone. We cannot have a history of repeated tragedies involving the same institutions,” he added.
Cardinal Rosales held a mass yesterday afternoon inside the replica of the House of Mary in Q-Park in Compostela, Cebu.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 31, 2013.