Sep 232014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/12/06MANILA4941.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA4941 2006-12-11 03:26 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO1233
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #4941/01 3450326
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 110326Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4215
INFO RUEHZS/ASEAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RULSJGA/COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUSICWP/COMLOGGRUWESTPAC SINGAPORE IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 004941

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/EX AND EAP/MTS
STATE PASS EPA
STATE PASS USAID FOR MARY MELNYK
USDOC FOR NOAA/NMMS
USDA PASS FOREST SERVICE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EWWT TPHY EAID SOCI RP
SUBJECT: FOLLOWING UP ON THE SOLAR I OIL SPILL

REF: (a) MANILA 03478 (b) MANILA 03549

——–
SUMMARY
——–

¶1. (U) Although long-term damage to ecosystems from the Guimaras
oil spill appears limited, there has been a substantial impact on
the already tenuous livelihoods of fishermen who worked the
contaminated areas. Some international assistance has been lined up
to help develop alternative livelihoods. Assistance is still very
much needed to build the capacity of the GRP to deal with such
crises. Post hopes to bring back a USG team to assist in training
and capacity-building for future spills. End Summary.

———-
BACKGROUND
———-

¶2. (U) Tanker “Solar I” sank off Guimaras Island on August 11,
2006, spilling bunker fuel, resulting in the Philippine’s worst oil
spill disaster. USAID funded officers from the U.S. Coast Guard and
a NOAA scientist to consult with the Philippine Coast Guard and
Filipino scientists on oil collection and damage mitigation.
Shoreline clean-up crews worked from August 12 until mid-November to
collect 59,000 sacks of debris from the oil spill. The debris,
destined for processing at a cement plant, was loaded onto a barge
which subsequently sunk near another island.

——————————————— ——
SCIENTIFIC SPILL REMEDIATION CONFERENCE CONCLUSIONS
——————————————— ——

¶3. (U) Scientists and representatives from government and civil
society met in Iloilo City November 27-28 to discuss the
environmental and economic damage and draft a long-term remediation
plan for Guimaras. Conference attendees reported that the seagrass,
corals, and fin-fish fared well, but the invertebrates are toxic and
unfit for consumption. Officials will monitor the health of the
beach inhabitants and clean-up workers. Their mortality and cancer
rates will be compared to the general population. Participants
suggested fisherfolk abandon fishing and invertebrate harvesting in
favor of occupations such as ecotourism, seaweed and invertebrate
farming, and other endeavors, since the market is skeptical of
purchasing fish caught around the island.

¶4. (U) Nearly half of the mangrove stands of Guimaras Island were
oiled. The Philippine Coast Guard convinced the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources of the need to spray diluted
dispersants, but the Coast Guard has not received funds to buy the
chemicals. The Coast Guard contends it saved 97% of the mangrove
forests with this method during last year’s large oil spill on
Semirara Island.

¶5. (U) The International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund
representative announced the Fund had signed a contract with Sonsub
Engineering to siphon the vessel’s remaining oil in March 2007.
Sonsub’s remote operated vehicle will drill two holes in the Solar I
to siphon out the remaining fuel. The cost will range from $6-$8
million USD and take up to 20 days, depending on how much bunker oil
remains in the vessel.

——————————————
SHORE CLEAN-UP COMPLETE, CONTAMINANTS SINK
——————————————

¶6. (SBU) With clean-up of the shore complete, the barge carrying
the bagged oil pollutants sunk off another island on November 20.
High seas inundated one of the two cargo holds of the barge
contracted by Petron, owner of the spilled bunker oil. The
Philippine Coast Guard had advised against transporting any
hazardous materials by barge and found that the captain and engineer
had forged their credentials. When they attempted to void the
contract, government-controlled Petron Oil obtained approval from
the President’s office to transport by barge with that particular

MANILA 00004941 002 OF 002

crew.

———————–
ASSISTANCE STILL SOUGHT
———————–

¶7. (U) Conference attendees will submit findings to an
international donor’s conference in January 2007. The United
Nations passed a resolution on November 15 calling for international
help and capacity-building. Subsequently, the United Nations
Development Program released $600,000 for livelihood programs and
$350,000 for an environmental assessment. The Philippine Department
of Budget and Management is waiting for a rehabilitation plan to
release $2.6 million earmarked for remediation and monitoring
activities.

¶8. (U) USAID reports that $10,000 of the allocated travel cost for
the U.S. Pacific Strike Team in August 2006 remains and has
requested a recommendation for the unspent money. GRP agencies were
impressed with the three U.S. Coast Guard officers and NOAA
scientist on the Pacific Strike Team (ref b): conference attendees
and the U.N. resolution call for capacity building. Therefore, Post
suggests USAID use the remaining money to finance the team’s return
to conduct a workshop in Manila to increase the Philippine
government’s disaster response capabilities and promote interagency
teamwork.

KENNEY

   

 

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