No more harm from oil spill on shoreline, says expert

IMG_8533There is nothing to worry about on the oil that was seen in the coastal cities of Talisay, Naga, Lapu-lapu and the town of Cordova, according to Franck Laruelle, Technical Team Manager of International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF).

Laruelle, who arrived in Cebu to replace fellow oil spill expert Dr. Michael O’Brien, led the aerial survey conducted on board an aircraft of the Philippine Air Force.

Lt. Anuar Inidal of Philippine Coast Guard and Dennis Chiong of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, Province of Cebu also joined the survey.

The survey started in the coasts of Talisay City going toMinglanilla, and Naga City in the south and ended in Cordova and Lapu-lapu City in Mactan Island.

Laruelle said what he saw from the aerial survey in the south and in Mactan Island is mostly oil sheen. In Naga, where it was reported that the oil spill had reached the area, only oil sheens were spotted in the waters of Barangay Colon up to Poblacion. Some of them are in circular form.

However, Laruelle said it’s hard to determine if they are part of the oil spill caused by the sunken vessel MV Saint Thomas Aquinas in a collision accident last August 16. He reasoned it is already too far from Lawis Ledge, Talisay where the vessel sank and there were no traces of oil seen in Minglanilla. There were also many cargo ships in Naga.

He said he would further check the coastlines of these areas to give a wholistic finding.

From Naga, the survey team made an extended look on the surface of Lawis Ledge. Laruelle said the oil continued to flow out of the sunken vessel because of the wider presence of the oil sheen on the surface.

But he said, “Now it is only little oil that is coming and spreading out and evaporating. So it depends on the wind but it does have the potential to affect the shoreline significantly. It needs to be monitored though.”

Laruellesaid it is a good sign to see oil sheen, whether rainbow sheen or silver sheen. It means the oil is very thin and it is evaporating. The sheen evaporates in hours but not black oil. “The color is an indication of the thickness,” he added.

In Cordova and Lapu-lapu, he said he had seen black oil that already adhered to the mangrove areas. There were also rainbow sheens in Day-as, Cordova as well as in between the Day-as and Lava Island. The mangroves in Lava are filled with black oil.

The French analyzed that the sheens in Cordova are still following the direction of the wind. But he said he could not say whether the oil sheens in Cordova came from the sunken vessel since it is possible that these came from the oil that contaminated the mangroves. (Xerxes Alkuino)