Oil giant owns up to spill
Petron takes responsibility, apologizes, vows to pay
PETRON Corp. on Monday took full responsibility for the 500,000 liters of diesel that spilled into the waters of Cavite on Thursday, which has befouled a large area of the sea and threatened damage to the environment and livelihood of the people affected by it.
The spill has spread over a 300-square kilometer area and affected more than 30 fishing villages in Rosario, Naic, Tanza and Ternate.
In Rosario alone, more than 40,000 people in the coastal areas have been hit by the discharge, according to Mayor Jose Ricafrente Jr.
“At this stage, we take responsibility for this unfortunate incident,” Petron president Lubin Nepomuceno said in a statement.
“We sincerely apologize and assure all the communities affected that we will strive to resolve the situation at the soonest possible time.”
Nepomuceno made his statement even as the Coast Guard said its divers found a leak in Petron’s pipeline that might have caused the spill.
“There’s a leak based on the water color that comes out,” Coast Guard spokesman Armand Balilo said.
“So all indications point to the pipeline as the main source of the leak. However, it is not yet conclusive unless we can get footage of the leak, and that we will attempt today.”
Balilo said the divers from the Coast Guard’s Special Operations Group tried to take video footage of the leak, but failed and returned to their station due to bad weather in the area.
Nepomuceno said Petron will clean up the areas befouled by the spill to restore the livelihood of the communities affected by it.
“In the meantime, we will continue to give the assistance needed by residents affected by the spill,” Nepomuceno said.
Petron has tapped Intertek, an international provider of safety services, to conduct tests on the soil, water and marine life of the areas affected by the spill.
Petron said sea-borne and aerial surveys showed almost no indication of oil sheen as of Saturday.
“We are working closely with the LGUs [local government units] of Rosario and Tanza to address the needs of their constituents and continue to survey the needs of other areas that may have been affected,” the company said.
Balilo said the Coast Guard would have to wait for the investigation to be conducted by an adjudication body before making any conclusion on who was responsible for the diesel spill.
“That’s our goal and it’s up to the investigation team to point out who are responsible,” Balilo said.
He said the clean-up operation was completed Monday morning.
“Basically, it’s finished,” Balilo said.
“No more traces along the shoreline and the sea, but the commandant tasked the Marine Environment Command to check today to make sure that there is no more spilled fuel in the area.”
The Coast Guard initially claimed that the tanker MT Makisig was responsible for leaking 500,000 liters of diesel fuel in the busiest waterway in the country. With Joel E. Zurbano
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