Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Local exec allays fear of coal spill in Palawan’s Taytay Bay

There is no danger of a coal spill coming from a barge that ran aground last December in Taytay Bay in Palawan, a local official said Wednesday.

Robinson Morales, Taytay municipal administrator, also said the coal that fell off from the barge's cargo section has already been defused.

"Na-disperse na yung kakaunting coal na nahulog sa dagat. Batay sa estimate ng Coast Guard at mga environmental group na tumulong, mga limang sako lang yung coal na nahulog (The coal that fell off was only around five sacks, based on the Coast Guard and environmental groups’ estimates)," Morales told GMANews.TV in a phone interview.

Morales said Taytay agriculture and fishery officials, as well as other groups such as the Coast Guard, members of academe and environmental groups, have been monitoring closely the situation of the barge, which is now safely anchored in the bay.

The vessel is loaded with 8,000 metric tons of coal and was headed for Batangas from Indonesia. But strong winds and big waves separated it from the tugboat towing it last Christmas Day.

Earlier reports said the distressed barge ran aground near Apalit Island very close to the Terra Mar pearl farm in Taytay Bay.

Fears of coal spill hounded Taytay residents as the whole bay is a protected area.

"As of now, there is no danger of coal spill. We are monitoring the barge, in fact, some Coast Guard personnel are on board," Morales said. 

There is now an ongoing negotiation with the Indonesian owner of the Ivan Batam barge to hire a salvor as local efforts to tow the vessel to a safe area have failed.

"While the barge is safely anchored, we want that it would be taken out of the bay area the soonest possible time," Morales added. — LBG/RSJ, GMANews.TV

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