Mindoro oil spill cleanup enters final phase

By Priam Nepomuceno

June 1, 2023, 3:45 pm

<p><em>(File photo) </em></p>

(File photo) 

MANILA – Efforts to clean up the massive oil spill in Mindoro are now on its final phase with the arrival of a vessel intended for siphon operations, the National Task Force on Oil Spill Management said Thursday.

The task force said the dynamic support vessel "Fire Opal" arrived in Oriental Mindoro on May 28.

It said the vessel will be used for oil extraction operations, transferring oily waste to a tanker, and disposing of the collected oil.

The entire siphoning operations may take 20 to 30 days.

Also, a scientific conference for the formulation of rehabilitation and recovery plan will be held, to be led by the National Economic and Development Authority.

During the meeting presided over by Office of Civil Defense administrator Undersecretary Ariel Nepomuceno and attended by representatives of various task force agencies, the Philippine Coast Guard reported that out of the 79.33 kms (83.74 percent) of affected coastlines, some 66.433 kms had been cleaned with only 12.89 kms (16.26 percent) remain for cleanup.

The ongoing cleanup operations have so far collected 44,656.30 liters of oily water mixture, 10,708 sacks, 997 drums, 119 pails, and 648 1-tonner bags of oil contaminated sand/debris and oily waste from Calabarzon, Mimaropa and Region 6.

Meanwhile, the task force also scheduled the conduct of a scientific conference that will be joined by various scientific agencies, academic institutions, relevant government departments, local government units and other stakeholder organizations this June.

The conference aims to facilitate the conduct of a post disaster needs assessment (PDNA) to determine the effects and impacts of the oil spill incident on the affected areas, including general long-term impacts on agriculture (fisheries), the marine environment, tourism and livelihood, among others.

“In line with the President’s guidance for a whole-of-nation approach in dealing with the consequences of disasters, we are undertaking this multi-sector scientific conference so that the pool of expertise on this subject matter can be tapped to ensure that our way forward in rehabilitation and recovery are effective and would be truly helpful to the affected communities in terms of economy, the environment and sustainability,” Nepomuceno said.

“We are looking forward to the conclusion of the siphoning operations for this will herald the conduct of the scientific conference. The conference will jumpstart the conduct of the PDNA and recovery planning by recommending valuation methods of affected environmental assets. The outputs of the conference will serve as the basis for the formulation of a comprehensive rehabilitation and recovery plan for the affected areas,” said Assistant Secretary Bernardo Rafaelito Alejandro IV, OCD administrator for operations.

Also, the Department of Social Welfare and Development reported the provision of more than PHP611 million worth of assistance in the form of family food packs, nonfood items, emergency cash transfers, and cash-for-work to the affected communities.

The total assistance provided by all relevant agencies amounted to more than PHP476 million.

The oil spill has left PHP58,137,124 worth of damages and losses to fisheries, affected more than 27, 500 fisherfolk, and caused 15 local government units to declare a state of calamity.

More than 42,400 families had been affected coming from the 107 affected areas in Oriental Mindoro, Palawan, Antique and Batangas. (PNA)