Malay town on ‘heightened alert’ due to oil spill
AKLAN, Philippines – The local government of Malay in Aklan province declared a state of heightened or blue alert on Monday, March 6 to preemptively implement protection measures against the spreading oil spill from the sunken MT Princess Empress.
In an emergency meeting, Mayor Floribar Bautista of Malay, which oversees the world famous resort island Boracay, said the blue alert level will start at 1 p.m. of the same day.
“Based on the prevailing wind directions, we have already identified nearest susceptible areas (that the oil waste could reach). We prepositioned oil spill booms as our primary defense,” Bautista said after the meeting, without identifying any area.
He stressed that there has been no sighting yet of oil waste in the waters off Boracay or nearby towns. People are still swimming in the famous island’s turquoise waters and sunbathing on its white sand.
Oil slick in Antique
Coast Guard Commander Janseen Benjamin, spokesperson of the Philippine Coast Guard-Western Visayas in a zoom presscon on Sunday afternoon also said that Boracay was still free from the oil spill.
“Caluya Island, which has already been affected by the oil spill, is still 28.62 nautical miles from the coast of Boracay. Hoping to utilize a helicopter today(March 6) to determine the direction of oil spill if weather permits,” he said.
Benjamin said he possibility of the oil spill reaching Boracay depends on the sudden drift of the winds in the area.
“At present, we still need to determine if the collected sludge in Caluya indeed came from the sunken MS Empress Princess in Oriental Mindoro. Sadly, it will still take us seven days from the date of the specimen transported in Manila to determine the result of the tests,” he said.
The Coast Guard earlier said it suspects the oil waste that hit Caluya on March 3 came from the MT Princess Empress.
On Sunday, March 5, Antique Governor Rhodora Cadiao said local government and coast guard personnel, and volunteers from the communities on Caluya and Semirara islands had collected 20 drums of the black, foul-smelling sludge.
Benjamin said that 15 coast guard personnel are leading the collection of oil sludge in Caluya.
“They are well trained and have experienced three separate oil spill incidents in the region for several years,’ he added.
Bautista tasked the tasked the MDRRMO to take the lead in consolidating reports on the threat of oil spill.
The emergency meeting was attended by the Malay Disaster Risks Reduction Management Office (MDRRMO), Philippine Coast Guard-Caticlan, Philippine Coast Guard-Auxilliary, the Boracay Fire and Rescue Volunteers Inc, and the Philippine Maritime Police among others.
Other tasks assigned to the MDRRMO is setting up an operation center for heightened monitoring of seas and coastal communities, coordinating with other local government units near Malay on possible oil spill sightings, and activating the Barangay Disaster Risks and Reduction Management Councils. – Rappler.com