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Guimaras Oil Spill Position Paper

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On August 11, 2006, MT Solar I sank in the waters off Guimaras Island and dumped into the sea an estimated half of the 2.19 million liters of industrial fuel oil it was carrying. Since then, the Philippine Coast Guard has sprayed 115,600 liters of chemical dispersants to contain the damage.

But, the big question is this. What is the best way to clean up the oil slick? According to the PCG, the best way to do it is through the use of chemical dispersants. However, my opinion is different. I believe that the use of chemical dispersants post a great threat to our marine life and can cause more harm than good.

The PCG acknowledges that the chemical dispersants could have adverse effects but said their use prevented far greater damage because they stopped the oil from reaching land and damaging more marine resources. By spraying a surface oil slick with dispersants and breaking this into small droplets, the slick was less likely to be pushed by the wind toward the shoreline. Dispersants also hasten the degradation of oil compared to when it was still a bigger slick. They said the dispersed oil could either be eaten by bacteria in the sea or degrade naturally.

It is true that chemical dispersants can hasten degradation of oil. However, droplets of oil are more likely to sink in the water than a bigger mass of oil slick. These could affect marine life that would otherwise not have been hit by the oil had this remained on the surface. It is also true that small droplets of oil are less likely to reach the shoreline. However, dispersants used on the shoreline could harm corals and other marine life on land because the dispersed oil has a better chance of hitting them.

Chemical dispersants causes the oil slick to sink in the water. This can create a far better damage than when it is on the surface. According to the Silliman University team, 47,000 hectares of hard coral in the southern coastal areas of Guimaras were not affected by the oil spill. This means that

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