Officials: Oil spill spotted in San Fernando town

MUNICIPAL officials in San Fernando, Cebu claimed that an “oil spill” occurred in coastal Barangay Panadtaran last Sunday.

However, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) officials said that what some see as an oil spill near the village’s coastline are actually black patches from residual coal thrown by barges docked there.

In an interview yesterday, San Fernando Mayor Lakambini “Neneth” Reluya said they received reports of the alleged oil spill around 3 p.m. yesterday.

Reluya said residents in the barangay told her that the oil spill was caused by a barge that reportedly capsized in the area.

But seeing no sign of a capsized boat in the area, Reluya said they are also investigating reports that personnel on one of the barges were releasing the oil to the sea.

Reluya said she is concerned by the reported spill because the location hosts a marine protected area.

She confirmed that the barge that reportedly released the oil was a contractor for Taiheiyo Cement Philippines, which has a plant in Barangay South Poblacion, San Fernando.

Reluya said they might file charges against the barge owner if there really is a spill.

But in a separate interview, officials from the PCG substation in the City of Naga clarified that what occurred off the waters of Barangay Panadtaran was not an “oil spill.”

Seaman 1 Joy Dayon of the PCG City of Naga substation said that the black substance found by the residents there was just dissolved residual coal.

One of the barges docked in the area may have disposed of the residual coal it accumulated after cleaning.

But Dayon said they have yet to identify though the barge that disposed of the residual coal.

During their investigation last Sunday, only seven barges were docked in the area.

But not one of the personnel on those barges admitted to disposing the coal to the sea.

While coal ash is not classified as a toxic substance under Republic Act 6969, Dayon said they will still continue their investigation as disposing coal ash to the sea is still illegal.

SunStar Cebu tried to get the side of Taiheiyo Cement Philippines on the issue, but Cerwin Eviota, who is in charge of the firm’s public relations, said their representatives have yet to respond to Sunstar Cebu’s query.

“Got no clear feedback yet. We just prompted them about your query,” Eviota said. (JKV)
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