Coast Guard divers prepare to check the pipeline the MV Makisig used to unload diesel oil to the Petron terminal in Rosario, Cavite. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN

MANILA, AUGUST 12, 2013 (MANILA TIMES) A diesel oil spill spread a large reddish stain over Manila Bay, contaminating the coastline of four towns in Cavite on Friday.

A fuel tanker is suspected of having dumped half a million liters of diesel into the bay on Thursday, said Philippine Coast Guard environmental protection chief Commodore Joel Garcia.

“I cannot say that we have contained it because it has affected so wide an area,” Garcia told reporters. “There have been reports of cases of people going to hospital from difficulty of breathing due to the fumes coming from this oil.”

The spill has spread to the shoreline of Rosario, Tanza, Naic and Ternate, authorities said.

Oil containment booms were deployed while government experts are checking the impact on marine life, Garcia said.
The 300-square-kilometer slick was drifting toward the mouth of the bay Friday, Garcia said.

About 20 kilometers of coastline has been affected, he added.

Asis Perez, head of the fisheries and aquatic resources bureau, said he has banned the harvesting and sale of shellfish from these areas until further notice.

“Fuel should not be ingested by people,” Perez said in an interview over radio station DZBB.

Garcia said the Coast Guard decided not to use chemical dispersants as they would poison the water, opting to let the fuel evaporate. He could not say how long this would take.

The 34,000-barrel-capacity MT Makisig and its crew have been detained and its owners will be made to pay for the cleanup if it were proven that it indeed had caused the spill, he added.

Additionally, the crew could face criminal charges unless there were “mitigating circumstances” that led to the release of the fuel into the water.

“Fuel samples taken from the shoreline and from the ship are quite identical,” he said.

The tanker’s owners, Herma Shipping and Transport Corp, could not be reached for comment on Friday.

The tanker had earlier unloaded fuel at a Petron terminal in Rosario, the oil refiner said in a statement.

“According to initial information, the leak may have come from the vessel but this will have to be investigated further,” it said in a statement, adding its pipeline was intact.

“Diesel is not a persistent oil and will easily disperse, so there is no danger to the environment and the local community,” it added.

In a statement issued Friday, Petron said it observed traces of oily sheen near the Makisig, which had just finished unloading diesel at the terminal.

Petron said it inspected the receiving pipeline and “test results show that the pipeline is intact and has no leaks.”
But the Coast Guard is readying charges of obstruction of justice against Petron and Herma Shipping after they refused to let authorities take oil samples from their facilities.

The Coast Guard wants to compare the samples with that taken from Cavite’s coasts.

Gov. Jonvic Remulla of Cavite said that the initial reports he received point to the Makisig as the source of the oil leak.
“The examination shows that it looks like the oil spill is coming from the ship. The report submitted indicates that the spill is coming from Herma Shipping but it’s too early to tell,” Remulla said in a radio interview.

Mayor Nonong Ricafrente of Rosario has placed the town under a state of calamity because many fishermen are affected by the spill.

Fish vendors complained Friday morning that nobody was buying their wares because of the oil spill.

Coast Guard divers discovered a hole in the Petron pipeline.

Remulla has ordered the evacuation of hundreds of coastal residents suffering from asthma, vomiting and shortness of breath after inhaling fumes from the oil spill.Sheila Mañalac, Rogelio Limpin and AFP

Oil slick drifting toward Manila Bay mouth: BFAR
August 12, 2013 1:55 pm

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on Monday said it is continuously monitoring the waters affected by the oil spill in Cavite to determine its effect to marine life.

BFAR Director Asis Perez said the oil slick – initially affecting the coastal waters of Rosario, Ternate, Naic and Tanza towns – seemed to have drifted out to deeper water towards the mouth of Manila Bay.

“BFAR’s Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) patrol vessels, along with the Philippine Coast Guard, have monitored the oil spill moving in the boundary of Ternate and Naic near Daang Barko as caused by the wave action and wind direction,” Perez said.

He added that minimal fuel sheen was also spotted in the waters of Rosario indicating that the oil could have dissipated.
Another monitoring team in Ternate reported that the slick there appeared to have vanished as well. Ternate is the last coastal town on the Cavite side of Manila Bay.

Water samples were collected from the areas of Timalan Balsahan in Naic, Amaya in Tanza and three sampling stations in Rosario near where tanker M/T Makisig is docked to determine dissolved oxygen level (DO), the presence of ammonia nitrite, Ph and salinity.

Initial monitoring showed no traces of ammonium nitrate, Perez said.

He said that the severity of the impact of an oil spill depends on a variety of factors, including the characteristics of the oil itself.
“Natural conditions, such as water temperature and weather, also influence the behavior of oil in aquatic environments. Various types of aquatic habitats have different sensitivities to oil spills,” he said.

In open water, Perez noted that fish have the ability to swim away from a spill by going deeper in the water or further out to sea.

“Unlike swimming fishes, aquatic plants and animals that live closer to shore in areas that are covered and exposed by the tides such as young crabs, mussels, oysters, clams, seaweeds, burrowing organisms, and nursery stages of fish suffocate when exposed to large amounts of oil,” he said.

Perez said that BFAR experts have collected samples of various fish species caught from the affected areas for laboratory analysis to examine if they are safe for human consumption.

While waiting for the result of the complete water quality and fish samples examination, BFAR is closely monitoring if local fisherfolk are catching and gathering any fishes and shellfishes, including crabs in the four affected areas, Perez said.


Philippine oil spill threatens livelihoods (1:15) Aug. 10 - A large amount of oil leaking from a broken underground pipeline near Manila Bay has contaminated waters, prompting authorities to impose a local fishing ban in the area. Sunita Rappai reports. FROM REUTERS

A dead fish floats in Manila Bay as a large oil spill in the area continues to spread.

The Philippine Coast Guard estimated about half a million liters of diesel fuel has leaked into the bay from a broken underground pipeline since Thursday.

Authorities have imposed a ban on fishing because of health risks, threatening the livelihoods of many near the coastal villages of Cavite Province. (SOUNDBITE) (Filipino) FISHERMAN ROLANDO ARNESTO SAYING: "We cannot go out and fish because the water is polluted." Fish vendors are also worried about the contamination. (SOUNDBITE) (Filipino) MARKET VENDOR ESTRELLITA VILLALOBOS SAYING: "We are anxious that we won't have any buyers because they may think our fish will taste like oil. We are afraid they will refuse the products we ship." Some out-of-work fishermen have been making money out of the spilled diesel oil by scooping it near the shoreline and placing it in barrels. The Coast Guard has promised a clean-up and full investigation into the leak, which fishing chiefs say will evaporate in 8-10 days. Petron Corporation, the oil company responsible for the leak said on Friday it was cooperating with authorities to resolve the issue immediately.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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