Mindoro oil spill impact, remains a year after

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Fishing communities in Mindoro and Batangas still suffer the effects of the oil spill by a San Miguel Corporation (SMC)-contracted vessel, one year since the disaster last February 28, 2023. In a study released on February 26, the Center for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED) estimated the damage caused by the oil spill at ₱41.5 billion, of which ₱40.1 billion was to the environment, while ₱1.1 billion to livelihood of people. This estimate is 800% higher than that issued of the reactionary government.

The vessel owned by RDC Reield Marine Services was contracted by SL Harbor Bulk Terminal Corporation, a subsidiary of San Miguel Shipping and Lighterage Corporation. Its cargo of 900,000 liters of industrial fuel oil that spilled was contracted for Petron.

SMC, and its owner Ramon Ang have never been held accountable for the extent of the damage caused by their operations. They showed up once to distribute aid, but continues to deny responsibility for the oil spill.

According to the CEED study, the income of fishermen dropped especially between July and November, after the lifting of the fishing ban following the oil spill. According to fishermen, they bring home only up to a third of their previous catch. This is because the level of oil and grease in the sea remains high, despite the fact that a year has passed and despite the state’s attempts to clean it up.

Meanwhile, the oil spill reached the Verde Island Passage (VIP) and caused damage to its ecosystem. According to scientists’ estimates, it affected 20,000 hectares of coral reefs, 9,900 hectares of mangroves and 6,000 hectares of seagrass in four provinces. Outside the VIP, the leak reached Caluya Island in Antique where 16,400 tons of oil washed up on a five-kilometer coastline.

Due to the severity of the leak, 15 cities and towns declared a state of calamity last year. Up to 200,000 people were reported affected by the disaster.

AB: Mindoro oil spill impact, remains a year after