Editorial: The bigger problem-A A +A
Thursday, August 22, 2013
IT HAS now turned out that the death toll is not the only tragic manifestation of the sinking of M/V St. Thomas Aquinas of 2GO shipping after it collided with Sulpicio Express Siete of the Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp. (formerly Sulpicio Lines Inc.).
More worrisome is the oil spill that is destroying the ecosystem of areas near the collision site in Lauis Ledge, Talisay City. And the Coast Guard said some of the tanks containing the oil carried by the ship—20,000 tons of diesel and 120 tons of bunker fuel—are still leaking.
What should be reassuring is that 2GO has announced the deployment of what it described as global oil spill experts to handle the situation. One of them, Capt. Daniel Sarmiento of Malayan Towage says the situation is manageable and that oil coming out from the sunken ship was “minimal.”
“Minimal” is, of course, a relative term and is dependent on perspective. Global experts who have seen bigger oil spills would consider our own version “minimal.” But not the locals who rarely see oil leaking out from sunken ships and who are now seeing its effects.
The problem may be minimized with the plugging of the leak and the eventual removal of the remaining fuel from the sunken ship, but it is the oil that is already floating and moving that is the problem now.
If we are to believe 2GO, the battle to contain the oil spill is being participated in by Malayan Towage, whose tugboats are equipped with machinery, materials and supplies against oil spills. A Japanese salvage master is also coming, together with an expert from the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Ltd., to assess the situation.
However, they will be doing the fighting out there in the sea. In the meantime, the Philippine Coast Guard has reported that the oil has already affected five to 10 hectares of the coast of Cordova town. Some of the oil has already been trapped in that town’s mangrove areas. Most affected by this are the town’s fishermen.
Isabelo Montejo, executive director of the Department of environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 has said it will take 3 to 4 months before the effects of the oil spill are neutralized. But surely, the damage to the ecosystem that the oil spill has brought will be felt for a far longer time.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 22, 2013.