Climate and Environment

Barge leaks oil, halts fishing in Aklan town

Barge leaks oil, halts fishing in Aklan town
The Philippine Coast Guard and community members respond to an "oil leakage" in New Washington, Aklan.
Philippine Coast Guard

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Thursday said it took action to contain an “oil leakage” in Aklan, which has resulted in the suspension of fishing activities and reached a nearby river. 

Investigation of the Coast Guard revealed the leak came from a non-operational barge docked at Metallica Shipyard in Barangay Polo, New Washington town. 

The PCG said it conducted manual collection, while shipyard employees used heavy equipment to haul oil-contaminated debris. The shipyard also hired additional workers to assist in oil and debris recovery. 

The PCG and New Washington’s Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO) found traces of oil sheen at a river in Barangay Poblacion.

“During high tide, the PCG response team and shipyard personnel contained oily mixture and laid absorbent pads and absorbent booms,” it said. 

The oil spill prompted the local government of New Washington to suspend all fishing activities in the affected areas. 

“The order is intended to protect public health and the environment until the situation can be properly assessed and remediated,” the local government said. 

Rappler reported that Typhoon Aghon’s rising seawater battered the vessel undergoing maintenance at the shipyard, causing erratic movements that damaged an oil container on board. 

“No one is exempt from the climate crisis, not even the industries dependent on fossil fuels are safe. They are now feeling the impacts of extreme weather events, bearing the thumbprint of climate change—such as Typhoon Aghon,” Greenpeace Philippines campaigner Khevin Yu said in response to the spill. 

“Yet, unfairly, communities are still the main casualty, despite having no role in perpetuating this crisis. As we saw in Mindoro last year, oil disasters like this threaten coastal communities’ livelihood and health, not to mention the damage to marine life,” he added. 

Greenpeace called on Aklan and other small island communities to shift away from fuel barges as renewable energy becomes more accessible and cheaper. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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