Oil Spills in Guimaras and Lebanon
Byline: Francis N. Tolentino
THE country continues to be plagued with several and seemingly succeeding disasters. After the rampage of typhoons sometime in July comes the heightened activity of Mayon and a number of other previously dormant volcanoes that continue to threaten people's lives and properties. Most recent in this chain of catastrophes and one that has inflicted extensive damage to the environment and livelihood of people in the area is the oil spill that devastated the coastal waters of Guimaras Islands last August 11.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had reported that at least 20,000 individuals have been directly affected by the spillage. School children had to be transferred somewhere else or their classes suspended because of fear that they might develop respiratory diseases. There is also now a seeming outbreak of gastrointestinal ailments due to oil contamination. Fisher folks in the area have been left "catchless'' since the disaster occurred, consequently driving their families to near starvation. In addition to this, marine habitats in the coastal waters of the island which was once home to thousands of exotic (with some even endangered) species of aquatic life including the popularly known dugong, hawksbill turtle and green sea turtle, have been left black and absolutely uninhabitable due to the slick.
Not only is the oil spill threatening to inflict upon the people of Guimaras irreparable damage to health, livelihood and environment. It is likewise endangering nearby tourism and economic hubs of the country as the leaked oil continue to spread rapidly.
On the same plane, the Lebanese government have also sought assistance from Dubai relative to the oil spill brought about by Israeli air strikes after the onset of the Hezbollah-Israeli war. The incident has been considered one of the most disastrous environmental catastrophes that hit the Mediterranean. Reports say that nearby Syrian seas have already been reached by the spillage of 15,000 tones of heavy fuel oil and international environmental organizations have also expressed concern over the Lebanese's people's health and safety.
Sadly, many believe that the national government is overlooking the magnitude of the disaster. While various task forces have been organized to clean up the oil slick, and concerned environmental groups have also committed to team up and extend assistance to the restoration process as well as to the incident's victims, our country's resources are not adequate to support and sustain efforts to clean and restore the affected areas. To make matters even worse, those directly responsible for the spillage do not seem to be working out the problem from the roots. …