Greenpeace returns barrel of bunker oil from Guimaras back to Petron

Hits Petron over lack of urgency in removing source of spill

Feature story - October 11, 2006
An unexpected surprise from the shores of Guimaras was brought to the doorsteps Petron corporation’s headquarters in Makati City. As Greenpeace activists delivered a container drum of spilt bunker fuel to highlight the company's irresponsible lack of urgency in retrieving the remaining bunker fuel which continues to spill out from the sunken MT Solar 1 tanker chartered by the oil giant.

Greenpeace activists in protective gear surprised Petron Corporation, when activists delivered a container drum of spilt bunker oil from the shores of Guimaras to the doorsteps of its corporate headquarters in the financial district of Makati. The move, Greenpeace says, is meant to stress the company's irresponsible lack of urgency in retrieving the remaining bunker oil which continues to spill out from the sunken MT Solar tanker chartered by the oil giant.

Greenpeace surprised Petron Corporation, when activists delivered a container drum of spilt bunker oil from the shores of Guimaras to the doorsteps of its corporate headquarters in the financial district of Makati. The move, Greenpeace says, is meant to stress the company's irresponsible lack of urgency in retrieving the remaining bunker oil which continues to spill out from the sunken MT Solar tanker chartered by the oil giant.

Greenpeace surprised Petron Corporation, when activists delivered a container drum of spilt bunker oil from the shores of Guimaras to the doorsteps of its corporate headquarters in the financial district of Makati. The move, Greenpeace says, is meant to stress the company's irresponsible lack of urgency in retrieving the remaining bunker oil which continues to spill out from the sunken MT Solar tanker chartered by the oil giant.

Greenpeace surprised Petron corporation this morning by delivering a container drum of spilt bunker fuel gathered from the shores of Guimaras to the doorsteps of the company's headquarters in Makati City. The move, Greenpeace says, is meant to highlight the company's irresponsible lack of urgency in retrieving the remaining bunker fuel which continues to spill out from the sunken MT Solar 1 tanker chartered by the oil giant.

The drum was hand-carried by Greenpeace activists who wore protective gear used for handling hazardous materials. In Petron's courtyard, Greenpeace volunteers laid down a banner with a replica of Petron's logo and the words "Petron, stop the spill now!". The banner was trod on by three other activists who left black footprints leading to Petron's door, in their wake.

"From the start, Petron's response to the spill has been extremely disappointing-initially even shunning responsibility for the spill. Up to now, they have failed to take urgent action on the pressing need to retrieve the rest of the sunken oil. Were Petron genuinely concerned about the well-being of Guimaras, its unfortunate residents, and the environment, they would have guaranteed the costs to immediately initiate the retrieval operation," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaigner Beau Baconguis.

"But it seems that in an effort to now distance itself from financial responsibilities associated with the retrieval effort, Petron has been more preoccupied in downplaying the extreme urgency of the situation.Sixty days after the oil spill, the responsible parties are still vacillating over the question of money-with little thought to the dangers the excruciating wait continues to pose on the environment and the well-being of people in the area."

      According to the government, retrieval of the oil now depends on the whether the International Oil Pollution Compensation (IOPC) will approve the compensation of the siphoning of the oil from the sunken vessel. But the IOPC is not set to make a decision until October 23. If approved, retrieval is expected to begin only in December. Meanwhile, every day that passes means more bunker fuel leaks into the sea and onto unfortunate coastal villages. The contamination and suffering, as well as the health and environmental risks continue.

     

      Greenpeace calls on Petron to hasten the retrieval of the oil by guaranteeing the expected costs. Petron should also immediately intensify relief operations; commit to paying for the continuing clean up, rehabilitation, and monitoring of the area; and compensate the communities for the lost incomes since August 11 up to at least 1 full year after the oil has been removed from underwater.

  As owner of the bunker fuel, Petron is the main beneficiary of the transport and sale of the oil. But Petron, which ranks among the country's top earning corporations, neglected to observe due diligence with regard to operations, hiring a low-ranked tanker company for a critical aspect of its operations.

"This is Petron's oil spill so they should be pulling all the stops to remedy the disaster. The most important move they should make is to guarantee funds for the immediate retrieval of the oil. This is no time to be protecting profits yet again to the detriment of human health and the environment," said Baconguis. "If Petron thinks that they can now rest easy because of their much-hyped clean-up, which in fact does little to address the problem, they can think again. As long the source of Petron's oil remains underwater, no PR blitz can erase the trail of destruction that leads to their doorsteps."

                                                             

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