ILOILO CITY – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is eyeing to complete retrieval of the thousands of liters of oil that spilled out from a damaged power barge in Iloilo City, and has spread to other coastal towns of Iloilo province and Guimaras province.
“Our target is within a week so it does not spread further,” said Lieutenant Commander Joe Luviz Mercurio, PCG chief in Iloilo.
The PCG-Iloilo has led the clean-up operation of the oil spill from Power Barge 102, which had its hull torn after an explosion last July 3.
Mercurio said that the cleanup has so far retrieved more than 200,000 liters of oil from the 251,000 liters that leaked out from the power barge owned by AC Energy Corp., a subsidiary of the Ayala group.
“We are trying our best, but we are really facing challenges,” Mercurio told Manila Bulletin on Monday, July 6.
Among the challenges he cited as the lack of equipment. Mercurio pointed out the arrival of equipment such as additional spill booms and skimmers was largely delayed due to logistical restrictions from the threat of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The PCG-Iloilo also has to rely on additional manpower from AC Energy and the Iloilo City government as it cannot do everything on its own.
Mercurio said it was also crucial for local communities to create their own improvised spill booms to be able to contain the spread of bunker fuel.
Meanwhile, AC Energy has deployed more than 170 personnel for the cleanup that consists of its own personnel, as well as those from Petron Corp. and Global Power Corp.
“We are closely working with all government agencies to retrieve the oil,” Gabby Mejia, head of AC Energy for Plant Operations, told Manila Bulletin in a separate interview.