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Cargo ship sinks off Misamis Oriental town, spills oil to villages

Cargo ship sinks off Misamis Oriental town, spills oil to villages
Jigger J. Jerusalem - April 05, 2021

A volunteer of Lower Jasaan village in Jasaan town, Misamis Oriental province helps clean up oil that spilled from an old cargo vessel that sank on Sunday (April 4). PHOTO FROM SABAS TAGARDA JR.
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—Residents of the village of Lower Jasaan. Jasaan town, Misamis Oriental province have expressed concern that the oil spill from the sinking of an old cargo ship would threaten their livelihood.

The cargo vessel MV Racal IV had been docked at a local shipyard in Lower Jasaan for five years before it sank on Sunday, the Philippine Coast Guard said.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Ronald Moncayo, acting chief of the PCG’s Marine Environment Protection Force based in Misamis Oriental, said a breach in its hull had caused seawater to seep into the vessel.

He said the ship was no longer operational and was sold to a new owner when it sank. Moncayo said a salvage company had asked permission to “pump out” any remaining fluid, like oil, inside the vessel before chopping it up for scrap metal.

“I told them (salvage company) to put spill booms around the vessel as requirement before we could allow them to conduct a ‘pump out,’ but it sank before the salvaging company could comply with the requirement,” Moncayo said.

He said the yet-to-be identified ship’s owner could face charges of violating Republic Act 9275 or the Clean Water Act for the oil spill.

He confirmed an oil discharge during the sinking.

The villages affected included Luz Banson, Kimaya, Lower Jasaan and Upper Jasaan.

“This is worse than the previous oil spill incidents that we had,” said Sabas Tagarda Jr., Lower Jasaan village chair, in a phone interview on Sunday (April 4). He said he advised residents not to swim in the water or go fishing until the spill was fully contained.

As of Sunday afternoon, Sabas said villagers collected at least 2,000 liters of oil-contaminated seawater from the seafloor using sawdust and mosquito net.

To get the oil, they spread sawdust to the contaminated sea. Once the sawdust absorbs the oil, they gather these using a mosquito net.

“It is simple yet effective. So far, we were able to collect almost half of the oil in my area of responsibility,” Sabas said, adding that he hoped other village leaders would follow suit.

He said the workers also placed oil spill booms around Lower Jasaan’s coastal area to contain the spillage.