Oil spill reaches La Union surf beaches

MANILA, Philippines - An oil spill from a cargo ship that sank a week ago near Pangasinan has not been fully contained and reached the surfing beaches of La Union, a citizen reported on Monday, February 25.

Mickey Galang, a local surfer from San Juan, La Union, told Rappler that traces of fuel have been found on beaches in at least 3 towns in the area.

CLEANING UP. Local surfers in La Union are cleaning up the beaches. All photos courtesy of Mickey Galang

CLEANING UP. Local surfers in La Union are cleaning up the beaches.

All photos courtesy of Mickey Galang

"There was already a leak when the vessel sank. [The Coast Guard] was following the path of the oil spill, but [the path] changed and now we have found traces even close to Ilocos Sur," she said.

Galang said several surfer clubs are now conducting cleanup operations on the beaches in La Union, a popular surfing destination.

MARINE LIFE THREATENED. Animals such as sea turtles could die after ingesting the tar

MARINE LIFE THREATENED.

Animals such as sea turtles could die after ingesting the tar

The surfers informed the Coast Guard about the situation on Sunday and one surfer in particular contacted Sen Pia Cayetano.

Thank you senator @ piacayetano :) — LukeLandrigan (@lukelandrigan) February 25, 2013

Galang posted several pictures of the aspect of the beaches on her Facebook, where she explained that the the sticky substance is a risk to animals such as sea turtles.

DIRTY BEACHES. Plastic bags full of residue from the oil spill in La Union

DIRTY BEACHES.

Plastic bags full of residue from the oil spill in La Union

The reptiles could confuse the tar with the jellyfish they normally eat, she pointed out.

Laura Riavitz, a marine biologist in La Union, told the surfers that the oil spill is "a hazard to marine and terrestrial animals as they may eat them."

SURFER'S PARADISE. Local and foreign tourists go to La Union to surf each weekend

SURFER'S PARADISE.

Local and foreign tourists go to La Union to surf each weekend

At least one person died and 14 others, all Burmese nationals, are still missing after the Panama-flagged cargo ship M/V Harita Bauxite sank off Pangasinan on Sunday, February 17.

The vessel capsized after developing engine trouble, although what caused it to take on water is still unclear. - with reports from Carlos Santamaria/Rappler.com