Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Green group allays fear of coal spill in Palawan

Environmental group World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on Wednesday allayed fears of a coal spill off the coast of northern Palawan after divers from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) found out that the load of coal carried by a foreign barge that ran aground in the area is still intact inside the sea vessel.

Marivic Matillano, project manager of the WWF Live Reef and Sustainability program in Palawan, told GMANews.TV that no coal spill occurred after Indonesian barge MB Ivan Batan ran aground in Taytay Bay on Tuesday.

Walang coal spill. Mabuti naman iyon [There’s no coal spill. And that’s good]," she said in a phone interview on Wednesday night, clarifying a previous remark on Tuesday that pointed to a possible coal spill. (See: Green group raises alarm over possible coal spill in Palawan)

She added, however, that the Coast Guard must act fast in retrieving the barge and bring it to shore, because the sea vessel might capsize due to strong waves, which may cause more damage to marine life in the area.

The local WWF official also said that they will still assist the local government in trying to build a case against the captain of the barge, which the group said damaged coral reefs on the seafloor.

In July last year, a coal spill was likewise reported off the Batangas coast after a barge, also from Indonesia, ran aground, causing the coal cargo it was carrying to be released from the sea vessel. (See: Coast Guard probes 'coal spill' off Batangas)

According to the Interspill 2009 conference paper, coal spills have no proven toxic or coating effects on marine life, but may bring about locally substantial "smothering effect" on reefs and marine vegetation. Also, coal dust accumulating ashore onto beaches may become a nuisance.—Andreo C. Calonzo/JV, GMANews.TV

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