DAVAO CITY – Residents have been warned to avoid fishing and swimming in Davao River and its tributary Suawan River after a trailer truck fell 50 feet off a cliff in Barangay Suawan in Marilog District, and spilled some of its cargos containing hazardous substances around 8 a.m. on Tuesday, August 2.
Retired Police Col. Alfredo Baloran, chief of City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO), said in an interview over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) that the truck driver died in the incident and one was injured.
He said authorities have seen dead fish floating along the Suawan River, an indication of water contamination, and that he added they are currently assessing the extent of the chemical spill.
He said it is possible that the poisonous substance has travelled further downstream, reaching as far as Davao River.
“In our investigation, there were dead fishes in this tributary river. It’s dangerous. If you see dead or weakened fish, you cannot catch and consume them because it might affect your health,” he said.
He said the chemical could potentially cause health hazards to people who come in direct contact with the contaminated water as it could cause severe burns of the skin, vomiting, and diarrhea.
He said that the personnel from the Bureau of Fire Protection had recovered most of the chemicals but there were some that had already made their way to the river.
He said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau is conducting water samples to determine the adverse effect of the chemical spill.
According to the Center for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) of the US, caustic soda can burn ‘the eyes, skin, and inner membranes, and cause temporary hair loss.’ It added that among the uses of sodium hydroxide include production of ‘soaps, rayon, paper, products that explode, dyes, and petroleum products.’ It added that the substance could also be used in tasks ‘such as processing cotton fabric, metal cleaning and processing, oxide coating, electroplating, and electrolytic extraction. It is often found in commercial drain and oven cleaners.’