Just recently, AC Energy Philippines submitted its environmental management plan (EMP) to the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) detailing the plans to address the environmental impact of the oil spill. It may be recalled that nearly 48,000 liters of oil spilled into Iloilo waters after an incident at the power barge that occurred on July 3, 2020. Authorities estimated an area of 1,200 square meters was affected by the incident. It may also be recalled that, in a statement issued by AC Energy, cleanup is estimated to be completed in 10 to 15 days from the issuance of its statement:
“Further to the initial assessment of the accident involving Power Barge 102, we wish to update that the oil spill had been fully contained since Friday, July 03, at around 10:00pm. The rapid deployment of roughly 170 personnel of AC Energy Philippines, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Petron Corp., and Global Business Power Corp., who sent their oil skimmers and multilayered spill booms to support the equipment of the Power Barges, facilitate the immediate clean-up effort,” excerpts from the official statement issued by AC Energy.
The EMP focuses on the detailed plans of the company and the relevant timeline for the implementation of such plans in relation to the following key areas which the DENR-EMB stressed and highlighted during the technical conference that is hosted on July 8, 2020: completion of oil spill cleanup and ensuring that water quality is restored to safe levels; continued monitoring of air quality and ensuring that air quality is safe before affected families are allowed to return to their homes; proper collection and disposal of oil-contaminated materials and wastes; and rehabilitation plan for the affected mangrove areas and fisheries.
Even with the submission of the EMP to the DENR-EMB, the company will continue to work closely and coordinate with the DENR, as well as with the various government bodies and agencies, including the local governments of Iloilo City and Guimaras, and the Philippine Coast Guard (“PCG”), to implement the EMP and to take into account comments and other recommendations from these government units and agencies.
With respect to news reports released today on the filing by the PCG of a criminal complaint against the company and certain of its officers for alleged violation of Section 107 of Republic Act 8550 (The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998) as amended by RA 10654 for aquatic pollution, the Company has not received a copy of such complaint and is thus unable to make any specific comment at this time.
Even with the filing of this case, however, the company undertakes and commits to continue cooperating in good faith with the PCG and the other government units and agencies to ensure that the oil spill clean-up is done properly and completed soon and that the needs of the affected communities and groups are provided for.
With the submission of its EMP and the various clean-up activities that is organized in coordination with industry and local government partners and the community assistance that it provided since the happening of the oil spill, the Company hopes to have demonstrated its serious commitment to do what is right for the affected communities and the environment, including to address the finding of aquatic pollution by the PCG.