A notice of violation (NOV) will be issued against the owner of a barge that exploded off the coast of Iloilo City last Friday due to violation of environmental laws, an official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said on Sunday.
Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said the issuance of a NOV against AC Energy Corporation is based on Republic Act 9275 or the Clean Water Act of 2004.
“A technical conference will be called to address the oil spill focusing on the clean-up operations. Then the case will be endorsed to the PAB (Pollution Adjudication Board) for computation of fines against AC Energy Corporation,” he explained.
Antiporda pointed out that the company, in coordination with a third-party, Harbor Star Shipping Services, will be conducting the clean-up operations in the affected area.
“Clean-up must be conducted following the national oil spill contingency plan and clean-up operations shall be supervised by the Philippine Coast Guard,” he said.
“The regional incident management team has been created to monitor all aspects of the clean-up from the affected community, health impacts, environmental impacts, and waste management,” he added.
The Philippine Coast Guard earlier reported that approximately one hectare of mangrove area has become a “proximate sensitive area” to the oil spill.
Antiporda said the recommended clean-up of heavy bunker fuel in mangroves is to allow wave action to disperse the oil and collect them from the sea.
“Sorbents and manual clean-up are recommended but must be strictly monitored so as not to disturb the mangroves in the area which may causes more harm than good,” he said.
Meanwhile, he noted that the use of dispersant in the mangroves should not be recommended due to adverse effects to the mangroves.
“The priority action for the clean-up is to contain the spill within the barge area and prevent them from going into the shoreline where it is harder to clean and collect,” he added.
AC Energy in a statement said it immediately undertook containment procedures after the incident last Friday. However, high ocean waves they said caused some of the oil to spill out of the confinement area.
The company assured that the containment stage had been completed last Friday evening. They have also started the skimming operations.
“We have also established a team to closely coordinate with the barangay for the needs assessment of the affected people so we can provide the needed support,” AC Energy said.
At least 63 households have been evacuated to the nearby elementary school due to toxic fumes from the explosion.
“As of this time, we are conducting an investigation of the incident and a reputable third-party firm will be engaged to conduct a thorough investigation as to the root cause of the explosion that ignited the fuel gases inside the sealed tank, in order to avoid similar situations from happening in the future,” the firm said.