CEBU CITY -- Oil spill experts have advised against using hair and feathers as improvised oil spill boom.
They said these would only aggravate the hazard that the oil slick poses to the environment.
The advisory came as local government units (LGUs) in Metro Cebu, private companies and concerned citizens donated and gathered human hair, chicken feathers and other indigenous materials to help contain the oil spill.
At the Lapu-Lapu City Jail, some 700 inmates even had their heads shaved just so they can contribute to the clean-up operations.
Dr. Resurreccion Sadaba, University of the Philippines Iloilo Oil Spill Response Program manager, said hair and feathers are made of keratin, which would take long to degrade. These would just add to the pollution.
Sadaba told reporters on Thursday that hair, especially salon-treated, may contain chemicals and bacteria that would harm the marine environment.
Organic materials such as coconut fiber and coconut husks placed in jute sacks are recommended and may be used as improvised oil spill boom.
But Sadaba said these materials are temporary solutions to the problem of oil contamination of the marine environment.
Sadaba, together with chemist Dr. Ida Pahila, is in Cebu to work with the Philippine Coast Guard to come up with measures to contain the oil spill that has spread from the Lauis Ledge in Talisay City, where the mv Thomas Aquinas sank after colliding with the cargo vessel mv Sulipicio Express Siete last Aug. 16.
The oil slick has reached the coast of Lapu-Lapu City and Cordova town.
On Thursday, technical divers from Japan plugged two of the three holes on mv Thomas Aquinas where fuel was leaking from.
Lito Salvio, 2Go Group’s officer-designate for Safety Management System, said the divers from the salvor companies they commissioned managed to plug two of the three holes that the divers found on the vessel’s tank. They plan to siphon the remaining oil in the vessel.
In a press briefing at the Cebu City Hall Thursday, Jiro Ohkubo, salvage master of The Nippon Salvage Co., LTD., and Capt. Daniel Sarmiento of Malayan Towage and Salvage Corp., told Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama that one of the holes was plugged last Wednesday and another one was plugged Thursday.
Central Visayas District Commodore William Melad of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said that after the holes were plugged, they managed to bring down the initial rate of leak of 500 liters per hour to 250 liters per hour, or 4.1 liters per minute.
Ohkubo said they will start extracting the remaining oil from the ship’s tank.