The profound impacts to the environment and human beings of the
Petron oil spill in Guimaras Strait of the central Philippines will
bring long-term irreversible damage effects. Some 50,000 gallons of
oil have leaked from the tanker Solar 1, which sanked on August 11.
The tanker is resting on the seabed and still has about 450,000
gallons in its hold. To a certain extent, the spill can be cleaned
up. However, having it a "real clean-up" and getting everything
back to normal is definitely impossible. That is because the
vastness of the oil's reach has come too far.
Greenpeace, together with scientists and marine/ecology experts
onboard MY Esperanza, arrived on Sunday, August 20, at the oil
spill ground. They went ashore to examine the mangrove areas near
Taklong marine sanctuary that were totally covered by oil sludge.
The extent of damage had already destroyed 454 hectares of
mangroves and 58 hectares of seaweed farms. Oil has contaminated
220 kilometers, that is, 136 miles of coastline.
Just imagine how the coastal treasures of the people living in
that island province who devoted for its development over the years
would be destroyed overnight. The rich marine life, the clear
seawater and the long stretches of white beaches will never be the
same ever again. Thus, the livelihood of thousands of people
dependent on fishing had been destroyed. That is why Greenpeace
mobilizes so quickly - helping and conducting an environmental
impact study for the Coast Guard because the information that
Greenpeace and its partner scientists provide will give them solid
basis in continuing their oil spill containment and mitigation
work. Still, it will take several months to draw up its report on
the full environmental impact of the spill.
The long-term clean-up and support for the affected communities
should not be made complicated by a lack of accountability. The
government is expected to make sure that Petron and its partners
hold accountable for the damages done to the environment and for
the economic losses in the island province. About 26,000 people
living in that area rely mainly on fishing as a means of livelihood
and since more than 1,100 hectares of marine reserves had been
destroyed, they need all the support they can get especially from
the company accountable for this tragedy. They should hand them the
support they need not only when the television cameras are
The vessel that lies on the seabed should be retrieved as soon
as possible so as to prevent further leakage. It is depressing to
know that what has happened cannot be undone and it is even more
depressing that you're cleaning up something that comes back again
and again. Hope is what there will always be.