PCG-6: Slim chance of oil spill reaching Boracay, Iloilo

Commander Jansen Benjamin (left), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)-Western Visayas spokesperson; and Commander Jonie Belarmino, CDGWV’s MEP Force commander. (Jennifer P. Rendon)

By Jennifer P. Rendon

Thanks to the northeasterly wind, the chances of the oil spill from an oil tanker that sank near Naujan, Oriental Mindoro spreading to Boracay Island in Aklan and to Iloilo is quite slim.

Commander Jansen Benjamin, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)-Western Visayas spokesperson, said that the present wind condition, which is going northeast, and the direction of the water current have spared world-renowned Boracay Island from possible havoc of the oil spill.

“For now, there’s a slim chance that it will reach Boracay,” he said.

At around 11:00 a.m. on March 11, the Marine Environmental Protection (MEP) Force of Coast Guard District-Western Visayas and Coast Guard Sub-Station-Boracay conducted a coastal monitoring patrol at the shoreline of Boracay Island in Malay town.

They reported negative sightings of the oil spill.

But the team said they will continuously monitor.

As of 1:49 p.m. on March 4, the BRP Kalanggamam also departed from its moored port to Pier-Reclamation in Barangay Caticlan, Malay, Aklan with three Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) personnel to conduct area assessment and maritime patrol at vicinity waters off Boracay Island and nearby vicinity to verify the veracity of the extent of the oil spill at Caluya Island.

And for those asking if it will spread to Iloilo, “it’s almost impossible,” Benjamin said.

The oil spill also presents no threat to Negros Occidental province.

Because of the wind taking the northeast direction, the oil spill reached Semirara Island in Caluya, Antique.

Commander Jonie Belarmino, CDGWV’s MEP Force commander, said that because of the wind direction, the oil spill from Mindoro was “pushed down” to Caluya, which is approximately 70 nautical miles from where the tanker vessel sunk.

At present, Caluya town is the only “at risk” area in Western Visayas. The oil spill was reported to have reached Caluya’s island barangays afternoon of March 3.

Based on CGDWV assessment as of 7:00 a.m. of Saturday, the oil spill reached three barangays in Caluya;

* Sitio Sabang in Barangay Tinogboc (1 km of its shoreline)

* Liwagao island in Barangay Sibolo (2 kilometers); and

* Sitio Tambak in Barangay Semirara (2 kilometers).

The estimated volume of oil that has landed in Sabang is around 10 drums while the CGDWV said that it’s only light or minimal in Tambak.

On the other hand, there’s a heavy spill in Liwagao, as per assessment by the barangay officials.

Berlamino explained that the oil spill couldn’t be contained using oil spill booms because of big waves.

“Oil spill booms are only applicable if the wave’s height is .5 meters or less. But since the reported wave is at 3-4 meters, oil spill booms are of no use. They could not stop or redirect the movement of oil,” he said.

Instead, the Coast Guard immediately conducted dispersant spraying and manual scooping of oil.

The estimated volume of oil already collected in Liwagao is 2 drums.

Belarmino said they have accredited collectors who will dispose of the oil for treatment.

“But for now, we’re waiting for a good timing for us to conduct an effective response,” he said.

By good timing, Belarmino said they’re watching for the slack time of the weather.

“Once the sea has calmed down, we will immediately dispatch our personnel and equipment needed,” he said.

As of 12:00 noon, motor tugboat Junn Yeu has already berthed at the Lipata Port in Culasi to fetch the oil spill response team and Marpol equipment.

The equipment has also been loaded on the tugboat.

But the boat captain decided against going back to Semirara Island owing to the rough sea condition at Mararison Island.


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