CHEMICAL SPILL. A tanker carrying a corrosive chemical lay on its side after falling into a ravine near Davao City's Suawan River in Sitio Lanitom, Barangay Suawan, Marilog District, on Tuesday (Aug. 2, 2022). The incident prompted the city government to issue a warning for residents not to conduct activities in the interconnected water bodies of the Suawan, Tamugan, and Davao rivers. (Photo courtesy of Davao Central 911)

DAVAO CITY – The city government has warned the public to keep off from three local tributaries after a truck loaded with caustic chemical fell into a ravine near Suawan River in Marilog District here on Tuesday.

In a radio interview Wednesday, Alfredo Baloran, the city disaster risk reduction and management office chief, said the waterways subjected under the notice are those of the Suawan, Tamugan, and Davao rivers.

Since the chemical spill occurred in the Suawan River, Baloran said there is a possibility that it would reach the interconnecting Davao and Tamugan watercourses.

He said the tanker truck was transporting sodium hydroxide, also known as caustic soda,  when the accident took place in Sitio Lanitom, Barangay Suawan.

Baloran described the chemical substance as “very harmful.”

Sodium hydroxide, a corrosive compound, is used in the manufacture of soaps, paper products, and even explosives. It is also used for bleaching and electroplating, among others.

“It can burn our skin if we come in direct contact with it. It will cause a person to vomit or have diarrhea, and difficulty in breathing,” Baloran warned.

Contact with very high concentrations of sodium hydroxide is also harmful to the eyes and even the internal organs such as the lungs, which he said could even kill a person.

He said concerned government agencies are currently examining the water in the rivers to determine the effects of the spill.

Baloran, however, assured Dabawenyos that the rest of the chemicals inside the truck were contained, but what concerns them is the occurrence of heavy downpours.

“We are really worried about its impact because maybe if there is heavy rain, the water will overflow, the chemicals will be washed into the river,” he said.

The City Health Office, meanwhile, said it is ready to respond and provide necessary medical help to residents whose health might be compromised from the chemical spill. (PNA)