Oil spill spreads to Iloilo, Guimaras coastal towns

Published July 5, 2020, 12:03 PM

by Tara Yap

ILOILO CITY – The oil spill from a damaged power barge in this city has spread to coastal towns of Iloilo province, and the island province of Guimaras.

Oil sheen (lower left) is seen at a coastal area in Iloilo City after bunker fuel leaked out from a power barge that exploded last July 3. (Tara Yap/Manila Bulletin)

“It is spreading,” said Donna Magno, director of the Iloilo City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (Iloilo City DRRMO).

Magno told The Manila Bulletin Sunday that the bunker fuel coming from the barge has reached the coastal areas of Leganes, Dumangas and Oton towns that face the Iloilo Strait.

There have also been sightings of bunker fuel in the Guimaras towns of Jordan and Buenavista, which face Iloilo City.

The oil spill was caused by an explosion that hit Power Barge 102 last July 3 that tore a hole in its hull.

The power barge is owned by AC Energy Corp., a subsidiary of the Ayala group, and was carrying 251,000 liters of bunker fuel and not just 200,000 liters as earlier reported.

Magno said that almost 180,000 liters of oil have been collected by a team led by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), while AC Energy assured that additional equipment was arriving Sunday for the retrieval of the remaining bunker fuel, and to contain the spread of the oil spill.

Magno said Iloilo City Environmental Officer Noel Hechanova had also suggested to use improvised spill booms because the ones currently being used to contain the oil spill were not enough.

“We have to get people to make these improvised booms the soonest so we can stop the spread,” Magno added.

The incident calls to mind a 2006 incident off the coast of Guimaras, which continues to be considered as the country’s worst oil spill disaster.