Residents flee from fumes of Iloilo oil spill

Published July 4, 2020, 6:54 PM

by Tara Yap

ILOILO CITY—Hundreds of coastal residents of Barrio Obrero in this city have evacuated from their homes, fearful of the fumes from the oil spill of a power barge that exploded that have already reached their homes.

Residents of Bo. Obrero are currently staying at the nearby school as they evacuated their homes due to fumes emitting from the oil spill caused by a power barge that exploded in Iloilo City. (TARA YAP/ MANILA BULLETIN)

As of 5 p.m., July 4, the Iloilo City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) facilitated the temporary stay of 105 families or 378 people at the Barrio Obrero Elementary School.

Evacuation of the residents, who were mostly informal settlers, started Friday night after bunker fuel started to leak out from Power Barge 102 of AC Energy Philippines earlier in the afternoon.

“We have established a team to closely coordinate with barangay [officials] so that we can provide the needed support,” said AC Energy in a statement.

But The Manila Bulletin found out Saturday that not all coastal residents left, and some still chose to stay in their homes despite the strong fumes emanating from the power barge. 

Several residents who did not want to be named said they felt fine, and that they would rather stay home.  They said they would not be comfortable if they were made to stay at the evacuation center where authorities also want to practice physical distancing due to threat of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a situational report, the Iloilo City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (Iloilo City DRRMO) said that the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has been leading the skimming and scooping of oil that leaked from the power barge that was carrying 200,000 liters of oil.  It is estimated that 100,000 liters have already been retrieved.

AC Energy separately disclosed that it was working with the PCG, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and local disaster management teams to contain the spill. It added that an oil skimmer equipment from Shell Philippines also arrived Saturday while more equipment was set to arrive on Sunday, July 5.