CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- An official of the Far East Alcohol Corporation (FEACO) has denied that the molasses spill from their storage plant caused the mass fish kill in Pampanga River.
During the special hearing of the City Council, FEACO General Manager Anthony Co refuted the claims of Masantol officials that the "accidental" released of three to four trucks of molasses into Pampanga River due to cracked storage tank killed thousands of fish in Masantol town.
"We do not accept that we are the cause of fish kill allegedly in the towns of Macabebe and Masantol," Co said.
While Co admitted that there was a molasses leak, he said that the level of toxicity of 1,000 BT is way below the tolerable level of 9,000 BT and is not considered a toxic waste.
He also cited the low chances of molasses flow to the downstream part of the river due to its high density.
"There was no reported fish kill in Apalit and in Macabebe. It was only in Masantol. If it came from us, the fishes near our area will be the first to be affected," he said.
Storage tank breaks
FEACO Pollution Control Officer Mercy Simon explained that one of the four storage tanks of the plant containing molasses had broke down, causing the leakage to directly flow towards the river.
She explained the hole of the tank created by their maintenance team was not properly sealed during a clean-up and this caused its breakage.
The said 30-year-old storage tank holds a maximum of 65 tons or about 46,000 liters of molasses which all spilled into the Pampanga River.
Simon asserted that the incident was just an isolated case since all four storage tanks undergo regular maintenance.
"It was an accident and not intentional and immediate actions were implemented to avoid more damages," Simon said.
She noted that they immediately initiated sandbagging and tried to divert the release to the molasses pit but some of it still flowed directly to the river.
Simon also disclosed that the damaged storage tanks was already repaired, and the three others were monitored to avoid similar incidents.
Despite refuting claims of Masantol officials, Co still vowed to disperse fingerlings into the Pampanga River to replenish the killed fishes.
He disclosed that 2,000 fingerlings will be released in Macabebe and Masantol towns as assistance of FEACO to the affected fisherfolks.
"We will be coordinating with Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources for the dispersal, hopefully as soon as possible," he noted.