Monday, August 21, 2006
Guimaras Island Oil Spill
The worst oil spill in Philippine history may have just occurred on August 11, off the west coast of Guimaras Island, near Iloilo City in the Central Philippines, when 450,000 gallons (1.8 million liters) of bunker fuel aboard the Solar 1 went down in rough seas of up to 3,000 feet of the Guimaras Strait. (In comparison, the Exxon Valdez oil spill at Prince William Sound, Alaska involved 11 million gallons of oil spilt) A growing oil slick on the surface near Guimaras Island's Nueva Valencia community has befouled portions of the southwest side of Guimaras Island, a tourist destination and the major supplier of the country's high export-quality mangoes. It does not seem to be known at present how big the rupture is in the single hulled vessel, Solar One owned by Sunshine Maritime, Inc. -- or how quickly the oil cargo may be leaking. ABSCBN News reports on the statements of oil company PETRON, which is seeking international assistance with the cleanup. The entire marine and coastline ecosystem of the area is likely to suffer greatly from this disaster. The worst may be yet to come since the depth at which the ship now lies makes an accurate disaster assessment difficult and uncertain. On this morning's Crossroads tv program on ANC, Tony Velasquez asked Petron Public Affairs Manager Virginia Ruivivar about the company's insurance coverage. Ms. Ruivivar stated that persons affected by an oil spill "can make a claim with the insurance carrier." Technical expertise from an international agency is apparently being sought by Petron in order to undertake the inspection of the sunken vessel. Ms. Ruivivar denied allegations the vessel was overloaded and claimed it was certified to be seaworthy by the International Oil Protection Council. The Coast Guard is undertaking an investigation into the incident. The US Coast Guard has some Links on this page that give more information on oil spills and their proper management.