Concerns mount over possible ship-breaking resumption

Concerns mount over possible ship-breaking resumption
SunStar Lapu-Lapu City

A RESIDENT and former barangay administrator of Punta Engaño in Lapu-Lapu City has expressed concerns about the potential continuation of ship-breaking operations for the m/v Diamond Highway.

This comes after all procedures related to the issuance of the cease and desist order (CDO) have been completed. These procedures included a public hearing on May 29, 2024, a joint inspection, and the submission of recommendations from the City Environment and Natural Resources Office, the City Health Office, and the City Legal Office in June.

As of July 1, the City Government had not yet decided the lifting of the CDO.

Josie Hayashi, a resident of Sitio Lupa in Punta Engaño, told SunStar Cebu that she strongly opposes the resumption of ship-breaking operations, citing the potential adverse effects and past experiences of residents.

“If operations resume and the CDO is lifted, those of us living nearby will suffer. We appeal to our public officials to assist us,” Hayashi said in Cebuano.

Hayashi said that if clearing operations proceed, they should be conducted in an enclosed space to filter out fiber dust particles emitted. She also suggested that rather than breaking the stranded vessel, it should be towed away from the shores.

Hayashi’s primary concern is air quality, stressing that thorough checks should be conducted before any clearing operations proceed.

‘Contamination’

She added that the waters near the m/v Diamond Highway, off Sitio Jansen, Barangay Punta Engaño, need thorough inspection following reports of contamination.

Hayashi said a private organization conducted water sampling in the area around April 2024. The results indicated that the water was contaminated and filthy.

However, she did not disclose the name of the private firm that conducted the test. When asked about the nature of the contaminants, she said it is “confidential.”

‘Positive effects’

Meanwhile, a barangay councilor claimed that the temporary suspension of clearing operations on the m/v Diamond Highway has yielded positive results, as fish have reportedly “swarmed” the ship.

Punta Engaño Barangay Councilor Mark Jonas Estardo, during an interview with SunStar Cebu on Monday, said the remaining portion of the stranded vessel slated for demolition provided an opportunity for fishermen to catch more fish, especially at night.

“Actually, the ship is not a bother because it’s situated in a specific area of the sea. It helps fishermen because a lot of fish flock to the ship in the evening, making them easy to catch,” he said in Cebuano.

CDO

On Jan. 31, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan issued a CDO to halt the ship-breaking operations after residents reported cases of rashes and skin irritations.

Residents from Sitios Proper Jansen, Colo, Lupa, and Mangal believe that fiber-like dust emissions from the operations contributed to the skin and respiratory diseases experienced late last year.

Barangay Punta Engaño and Pilipinas Precious Metals Resources Inc., the firm appointed to clear the ship, are also awaiting Chan’s approval to continue ship-breaking operations.

Cenro officer-in-charge Emeterio Bonghanoy, in a previous interview, said his office required the private firm to clear out discovered crystallized gel particles in the area and to double and install higher nets to shield nearby houses from any fiber dust emitted from the ship-clearing.

The m/v Diamond Highway, a car carrier with a capacity of 6,354 vehicles, became inoperable following a fire breakout on June 15, 2019. / DPC

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