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Coast guard says vessel in bunker oil spill in Romblon hard to trace

SAN PEDRO CITY — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Philippine Coast Guard have collected about 300-400 liters of bunker fuel that spilled across the shorelines in Romblon province. 

The clean-up continued Sunday to clear traces of the oil spill that had affected seven villages in San Andres town and some parts of Odiongan and Ferrol towns.

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The fuel was believed to have spilled from a passing sea vessel, although Coast Guard Romblon Lt. Commander Allan Abinoja said there was no reported fish kill in the said areas.

He said the DENR was still checking the area for any environmental damage.

Hard to trace

In a phone interview Sunday, Abinoja said the oil spill was first reported to them last Thursday in Barangay Agpudlos in San Andres.

But even then, he said, the fuel had already “hardened” into clumps or tar balls on the shore, an indication that the spill may have happened more than a week ago.

Given that, “it’s already hard to trace (the sea vessel)” Abinoja said.

Info campaign

The Coast Guard said the fuel may have come from a vessel that passed through Tablas island in Romblon. He said the incident remained “under investigation.”

“People did not immediately know that the (oil clumps) were from an oil spill. We found out only after DENR asked us to verify it,” he added.

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On the bright side, Abinoja said the clean up operation turned into an information campaign also to help communities “become aware of an oil spill” by watching for indicators, such as fuel traces in the water.

He said the DENR and the Coast Guard’s Marine Environmental Protection Unit were still discussing how to properly dispose the collected fuel in order to not cause any more environmental damage. /je

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