Oil spill evacuees return home

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

THOUSANDS of evacuees from the oil spill-hit village of Botongon in Estancia town, Iloilo have returned to their homes six days before Christmas.

The evacuees were permitted to return following the declaration of the Department of Health (DOH) that the area within the 150-meter radius from the damaged power barge 103 is safe.

“The evacuees staying at Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College-West Campus can now go home but those who have lost their houses due to the typhoon can still stay,” said Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. on Thursday.

Defensor said the benzene and hydrogen sulphide concentration in three testing sites near the grounded power barge were almost zero as shown in the latest ambient air monitoring tests of the Environment Management Bureau (EMB) from December 17 to 18.

The monitoring tests also found no level of nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide at the residential area 100 meters from the barge, in the seaport owned by Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and in Botongon Elementary School.

“We are happy that our evacuees are now home and to make sure that they have something to feast before Christmas, we are sending with them their one day meal allowance and the relief goods left,” Defensor said.

The governor said each family will receive P300 and food pack containing biscuits, canned goods, instant noodles, and three kilos of rice.

Oil spill clean-up

The DOH-Western Visayas recommended to strictly enforce the “No PPE, No Work, No Pay” policy for 380 workers of Kuan Yu Global Technologies Inc. for as long as the clean-up work of the oil spill remained undone.

An occupational health and safety officer must also be present in the workplace to ensure and oversee the health and safety of the workers at all times.

Health officials also assured that they will continue to monitor the health condition of the workers and the residents, especially during emergency situations, as well as the public information campaign on oil spill health risks.

As of December 16, a total of 593,949 liters of bunker fuel have been siphoned from the damaged power barge and 295,500 liters of which have been transferred to Power Barge 101 and 102 in Iloilo City.

Commodore Athelo Ybañez of the Philippine Coast Guard-Western Visayas said the contractor is currently preparing to tow and refloat the damaged barge. Once done, the damaged power barge will be transported to Batangas for dry-docking.

Power Barge 103, carrying four million liters of bunker fuel, ran aground during the onslaught of Super Tyhoon Yolanda on November 8. (PR)

Local news

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