PCG Leads Coastal Clean-up Operations

5 March 2013

MANILA, Philippines --- The oil spill that spread to the shorelines of several Northern Luzon provinces had Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) authorities scrambling to provide physical clean-up operations in a move to prevent damage to marine life and the ecosystem.

"There are about 11 coastal areas that are affected. We are too busy in addressing the issue. The local municipalities are now helping the Philippine Coast Guard," said Commander Joel Garcia, head of the PCG's Marine Environmental Protection Command.

Since the PCG implemented its oil contingency plan, personnel of Coast Guard Station Currimao were able to recover some 180 liters of bunker fuel along the shorelines of Barangay Poblacion in Ilocos Norte.

In La Union and Ilocos Sur, the Coast Guard collected 200 sacks and two drums of oil debris from the coasts of Bangar, Luna, San Juan, and Candon City.

The oil spill affecting the shorelines of these provinces reportedly came from the Myanmar-flagged cargo ship M/V Harita Bauxite that sank last month in the sea off Bolinao, Pangasinan.

Garcia said the most telling evidence was the samples they had taken near the vicinity where the vessel sank, and from the contaminated coasts.

"It appears that the two samples are quite identical technically with respect to the chemical component of the (oil) product," he said.

The owner of the M/V Harita Bauxite is taking responsibility for the clean-up, according to Garcia.

"The company has been coordinating with the Coast Guard in La Union, telling the district commander that it is willing to provide assistance," he said.

For now, no fish kill has been reported yet as well as the extent of the oil spill damage.

"We have requested the regional environmental management bureau to conduct its own environmental intact assessment as to the social costs of the oil spill," he said.