Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Guimaras Oil Spill Tens Times Worse Than Semirara


Last Friday, an oil tanker carrying 2 million liters of oil sank 20 nautical miles off the coast of northern Guimaras (for more details, read this article). News of the oil spill did not immediately merit widespread attention because of the typhoon that caused widespread destruction in Western Visayas during the weekend. People are now just starting to realize how serious the Guimaras oil spill is to the marine ecosystem of the region. (Photo courtesy of Visayan Daily Star)

The latest oil spill in Guimaras already brings to two the number of oil spills to hit Western Visayas in just two years. Recall that only last December 2005, a NAPOCOR barge spilled 210,000 liters of bunker fuel off the coast of Semirara island in Antique. The Semirara Oil Spill destroyed more than 236 hectares of mangrove and polluted 40 kilometers of marine shoreline in Antique. It also took almost a year to clean up the mess and it seriously affected the livelihood of fisherfolk in the province. There were even fears that the oil slick would reach Boracay but thankfully, it proved to be unfounded.

The Guimaras Oil Spill (2 million liters) makes the Semirara Disaster (200,000 liters) pale by comparison. The latest oil spill is at least ten times worse than the Semirara disaster.

So how much will cleaning up 2 million liters of oil cost? If we are to judge by previous experience, NAPOCOR (which claimed full responsibility for the Semirara oil spill), allocated P90 million to rehabilite the mangroves, hire some 350 local residents for clean up operations and pay some 150 families who were directly affected by the oil spill. So if cleaning up 210,000 liters cost P90 million, it is therefore safe to assume that cleaning up the M/V Solar I oil spill would cost P900 million.

It is rather unfortunate that an environmental disaster of this magnitude would strike just when Guimaras's tourism industry seemed poised to take off. I myself have been doing my share in promoting the province's white sand beaches as a cheaper alternative to Boracay. What really infuriates me is that fact that all the nice white sand beaches in Guimaras are located near the oil spill site. Now, all the efforts in promoting the island province's tourism potential has come to naught because of this tragedy.

Aside from affecting resort owners, the oil spill will also affect the lives of poor fisherfolk in the area who rely entirely on the sea as their source of income and food. Petron definitely, should pay for this crime!

1 comment:

tuesday said...

anymore posts about guimaras? i hope you can write more so i can post them at the saveguimaras web blog. thanks