WebClick Tracer

TURNING POINT: Wanted: A Perfect Storm

mindaviews adan 2

NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 13 March) – A downed industrial tanker off the coast of Oriental Mindoro with 800,000 liters load of fuel is killing softly the living organisms – animals and plants alike – in the municipal waters. 

The water currents move the oil sludge towards the south, extending the environmental devastation to the coasts of Antique and Palawan.

As oil tends to spread thin on the water surface, it would cover a wider area   as it drifts. The oil slick creates a barrier for some time between atmospheric oxygen and the ocean water, suffocating thus not just planktonic organisms but small fish and crustaceans as well.

It is also likely that the planktons that have stuck to the oil would be ingested by animals in the marine food chain, the toxin of which is carried down to higher level consumers, to include humans.

The oil sludge also smothers the corals, eel grass and algae, including mangrove saplings. It, in effect, destroys the entire marine ecosystem of affected locations and their productivity.

It would take months for an oil slick to become so thin so as no longer to deprive ocean lives of oxygen, by the action of strong waves, currents and other oceanic disturbances. It would, however, take years for corals to recover and restore its productivity.

Accordingly, the oil spill has become a health hazard to the coastal dwellers of Oriental Mindoro. The oil stench has been reported to have caused fever, headaches and dizziness.

And, it is estimated that the oil spill will deprive 18,000 municipal fishers of their livelihood. Actually, not only the incomes of fishermen are adversely affected by the environmental disaster but also those involved in the transport, distribution and marketing of local fishery products. No one really knows how long would they suffer. As said, the ecosystem takes some time to recover and be productive again.

Freeing the fishing grounds alone from the oil sludge may take months. The current technology of barrier and skimming method in oil spill clean-up takes long and is quite expensive. Only a strong natural disturbance of the ocean may offer a faster and, probably, a less expensive clean-up.

Pray for a perfect storm.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental, Philippines.)

Your perspective matters! Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We welcome diverse viewpoints and encourage respectful discussions. Don't hesitate to share your ideas or engage with others.

Search MindaNews

Share this MindaNews story
Send us Feedback