MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is a strategic route for different kinds of vessels and tankers, as the country is surrounded by bodies of water. It, however, also makes the country prone to sea disasters.
Eight years ago on August 11, oil tanker M/T Solar 1, which was carrying 2 million liters of bunker fuel, sank off Panay Gulf. Around 200,000 liters of fuel spilled into the gulf, affecting marine sanctuaries and mangroves in Guimaras Island. The oil even covered shores in nearby provinces, such as Iloilo and Negros Occidental. (READ: 8/11, one year after)
More than 39,000 people were affected, with 20,000 of them fishermen who lost their livelihood. Meanwhile, some residents started leaving their homes after contracted respiratory diseases caused by the “acrid smell” surrounding the community. About 1,300 people were diagnosed with oil-spill related diseases, according to National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB).
Not only did the oil spill threaten the health of the residents, it also cost the island millions of pesos in rehabilitation and recovery. (READ: Cost to Guimaras: P9.2 billion)
The Guimaras oil spill is now considered as the worst oil spill in the country. It did, however, paved way for a science-based governance in the island. (READ: Good science, good governance in Guimaras)
In an interview with Rappler on Monday, August 11, Philippine Coast Guard (PGC) Deputy Chief of Staff for Marine and Environmental Research and Development Grace Idos shared some do’s and don’ts for residents affected by an oil spill:
|Report the oil spill to the nearest coast guard||Do not swim in the affected area|
|Report the oil spill to the nearest radio/television station||Do not fish nor collect slow-moving species such as crabs as they are the most affected|
|Avoid/isolate the affected area, leave the cleanup operations to authorities and trained responders||No scuba-diving nor any recreational activities near the affected area/s|
Disseminate the report of oil spill to your family and neighbors
|Evacuate the area (for those who live in heavily affected areas)|
According to Idos, more than the protection of affected marine resources, the priority is always the safety of the responders and the affected residents. – Rappler.com
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