Coast Guard probes oil spill in Sibulan-Dumaguete waters

Published March 23, 2019, 7:21 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Philippine News Agency

DUMAGUETE CITY – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) here is investigating an oil spill that has left patches of oil in coastal areas in nearby Sibulan town and this capital city.

Lt. Commander Jansen Benjamin, PCG-Dumaguete Station Commander, disclosed Friday that the oil spill was estimated to have occurred around three days prior to its discovery, based on the characteristics seen in the oil retrieved from shallow waters and from the shore.

The extent of the damage, however, has yet to be ascertained pending reports on the effects of the oil spill on the environment. Benjamin hoped there would be no serious consequences.

So far, no oil slick that would pose a greater threat to the environment has been reported yet although the Coast Guard here is coordinating with its counterparts in nearby areas outside of Negros Oriental to be on the lookout for any, he said.

According to Benjamin, it is also difficult for them to determine as yet who could be responsible for the oil spill, or perhaps an oil leakage, but he said the oil most likely came from a sea vessel.

The quantity of the spill could not be determined, as the black substance that hit the local shores here has already split up into smaller portions and there is no need for containment because there are no oil slicks or large oil clumps, he pointed out.

Speaking in the vernacular, Benjamin explained that the oil appeared thick and heavy, and was emulsified, which means it was no longer fresh and had already been in the seawaters for several days.

The oil spill was first brought to the attention of authorities, through the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) on Thursday, after a caller said oil patches were seen in Maslog, Sibulan.

PDRRMC Executive Officer Adrian Sedillo, who received the call, said he immediately informed the Coast Guard and also proceeded with his team to Silliman Beach in this city, where some oil patches were also seen.

Sibulan local government officials and some personnel from the Department of Public Works and Highways also responded by going to the Maslog area to do a cleanup.

Reports also said that further down the coast, at Escaño Beach and Piapi Beach, oil patches were also found on shallow water, on stones, and in floating seaweed and debris.

An initial assessment showed that traces of thick, black oily substance had settled on seaweed and on the shore in these areas, but there were no signs of oil slick or larger portions of oil as it was low tide when the PDRMMC visited Silliman Beach.

Sedillo said some people who went swimming at Silliman Beach got out of the water after noticing oil on their skin.

Coast Guard Dumaguete commander, Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin, meanwhile, assured that he has coordinated with the different PCG stations nearby to report any possible sighting of an oil slick.

He expressed belief that the oil spill was just localized as there was no oil trace in Barangay Calindagan here during the PCG’s regular coastal cleanup or “Scubasurero” today.

As of late Friday, the Coast Guard, with the help of civilians and barangay officials, had already cleaned up the oil along the shorelines, Benjamin said.

The Coast Guard commander reassured that they will continue to monitor the oil spill in the coming days, although he noted that if there was an oil slick, it would have already been carried by the currents down south to Mindanao.