Coast Guard to probe Iloilo City oil spill, may file charges vs. power barge owner ‘if warranted’

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 5)— The Philippine Coast Guard said Sunday it will investigate the oil spill incident in Iloilo City, adding it will look into possible legal action against the owner of the power barge if necessary.

In a statement, PCG said its legal affairs team will be flying to Iloilo to assist in the ongoing probe on Friday’s incident, wherein over 40,000 liters of oil spilled into the waters following a barge explosion in Lapuz district.

“The PCG will file criminal charges against the owner of Power Barge Number 102, if warranted,” it said in a statement.

PCG Marine Environmental Command Rear Admiral Art Abu, however, told CNN Philippines that the agency will still have to study possible complaints that may be filed against the company, with officials still awaiting the final results of the investigation.

Pinag-aaralan pa dahil (We’re still studying it because) right now we are busy on containing the oil,” Abu said in an interview with Newsroom Weekend.

Officials from the Coast Guard as well as personnel and management from the AC Energy Corporation— owner of the power barge— have started a coastal cleanup in the area to contain further damage brought by the oil spill pegged at around 48,000 liters.

Authorities have likewise placed multilayered spill booms from the tank to prevent the further spread of oil in the waters.

Initial reports from the PCG said one of the tanks exploded due to hot work as acetylene was used to open rusted compartments. AC Energy meanwhile said that the oil spill was initially blocked by a structure surrounding the barge but high waves caused it to spill out.

Meanwhile, PCG reported that around 100 families composed of over 300 individuals living in the vicinity were affected by the incident. They were evacuated to a nearby school, it added.

AC Energy, in a separate statement on Saturday, said it will closely coordinate with the local government unit concerned in order to address the needs of the affected community.

The Environment Department, on the other hand, said a notice of violation of the Republic Act No. 9275 or the Clean Water Act will be issued in relation to the incident.