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Probe into oil spill still ongoing despite containment

By Leonardo V. Micua

SUAL, Pangasinan, Oct. 30 (PNA)–The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is set to submit to higher headquarters an inspection and apprehension report in connection with the reported oil spill Monday caused by a ruptured pipe of the Sual Coal-fired Power Plant here.

The report is based on the investigation and ocular inspection conducted by PCG, the Local Government of Sual and other agencies, and their interviews with residents of Pangascasan, Sual including the caretakers of fish cages in the area.

The PCG, however, observed that the reported 4,000 liters of bunker fuel that escaped from the plant's ruptured pipe was confined in its outpool canal within the plant which was done with the use of oil spill boom.

The outpool is a canal where the warm water from the plant that it produces when generating some 1,200 megawatt of power for the Luzon Grid is coming from.

The investigation and inspection by multi-government agencies are still continuing to find out if there are some traces of oil in the coastal areas, particularly in Barangay Pangascasan, Sual as a result of the oil spill.

A corollary report from a team mobilized by the National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development Center (NIFTDC) to look into the problem, showed the fish cages in Sual estimated at some 700 units are safe as they are located some 200 to 500 meters away from the plant's outpool.

Even a team from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of Region 1 confirmed that the problem was already contained based on the physical appearance of the water they noted when they arrived.

But they still took water samples from around the plant for analysis in their laboratory in San Fernando City, La Union, the resuslt of which will be known after one month.

Froilan Gregory Romualdez III, spokesman of Team Energy which operates the power plant, said they mobilized their emergency response team which immediately isolated the ruptured pipe, and undertook manual removal of spilled oil from the outpool.

An oil spill boom was used to contain the spilled oil within the outpool and PCG said if there is any oil that spilled to the sea in Barangay Pangascasan, it was only minimal.

Team Energy will be given 20 days within 10 days to review the inspection and investigation report of PCG, which will then be submitted to the adjudication board of the PCG District in San Fernando City for evaluation and decision.

Romualdez said Team Energy is ready to submit its answer to the report and went on to apologize for what happened, assuring that his company will continue to operate in safe and reliable manner.

Even Mayor Roberto Arcinue of Sual is convinced that the problem has already been contained few hours after the oil leak was discovered. (PNA)

CTB/LVM/RMA

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