Governor raises alarm over spread of oil spill to Guimaras

Published July 8, 2020, 3:14 PM

by Tara Yap

ILOILO CITY – Governor Samuel Gumarin urged the owner of a damaged power barge located offshore in Iloilo City to also address the oil spill that has spread to Guimaras and also affected more than 20 coastal communities in the small island province.

The oil spill from a power barge owned by AC Energy Philippines in Iloilo City has reached the island province of Guimaras, which is seen in the background. (Tara Yap)

Gumarin reiterated his call for the management of AC Energy Philippines to lead the efforts to remove bunker fuel that leaked out from its power barge that was damaged due to a July 3 explosion incident.

“AC Energy should step up with the cleanup operations to contain the oil spill,” Gumarin told Manila Bulletin in an interview Wednesday, July 8.

Water current initially swept portions of the more than 250,000 liters of bunker fuel that leaked from Power Barge 102 since July 3 to coastal areas of Buenavista and Jordan towns, which geographically face Iloilo City with a body of water serving as division.

The toxic bunker fuel has also reached coastal villages of San Lorenzo town.

Gumarin pointed out that AC Energy must act fast to avoid larger damage to coastal areas and residents who have been reminded of their sufferings from a 2006 oil spill, which is still considered as the country’s worst oil spill disaster when an oil tanker carrying two million liters of bunker fuel sank off its coast.

“This may be small compared to the 2006 Guimaras oil spill, but this is still a problem for us,” Gumarin added.

The Guimaras government is also considering to evacuate affected residents, especially those who may have a higher risk from the toxic fumes of the bunker fuel.

Aside from health risks, local fishermen in Guimaras have complained of volumes of dead fish in the aftermath of the July 3 oil spill in Iloilo CIiy.

Meanwhile, AC Energy has deployed personnel from Negros Island to augment the oil spill clean up in Guimaras.

“We are closely working with Guimaras officials to address this,” said Gabby Mejia, head for plant operations of AC Energy.

Mejia told Manila Bulletin in a separate interview that cleanup gears and personal protective equipment (PPEs) have already arrived