Barge with coal now sinking near Apulit Island

I just arrived from beautiful Palawan. I heard that the coal barge is sinking near the shore of Apulit Island. I can’t believe concerned government official didn’t take initiative to save marine life. The press release below was given out last January 21, 2011 in an effort to prevent major damage to marine life to our beautiful seas. But what has happened since then?

No Action.

The barge is stuck in an Apulit Island and is sinking. The captain abandoned the vessel. Why did government take so long to take action? NAPOCOR, even if the coal is not yet in your possession, why couldn’t you take responsibility for this?

Unburnt coal present in marine environments will surely cause major damage to our beautiful seas.

Here is the background story of this stranded coal barge.

The Save Palawan Seas Foundation (SPSF) in cooperation with local government units, private citizens of the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Philippine Coast Guard have been attempting to aid stranded Indonesian barge Ivan Batam since it first entered a Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Taytay, Palawan on Tuesday, December 30, 2010.

Agus Priyanto, captain of the vessel towing over 8,000 metric tons of coal reported that they ran out of fuel en route to Batangas and had entered the waters of the marine sanctuary to seek shelter from rough waters. Fearing the adverse effects of prolonged exposure of coal on marine life, the foundation sold diesel to the vessel. Ivan Batam left the sanctuary and docked in a nearby island instead to await the arrival of more fuel from Manila.

On January 2, 2011, the barge was spotted temporarily grounded near the Southwest of Maytigued Island due to choppy waters. After being lent more fuel, they left the site the following day.

Members of LGU’s of Taytay Palawan, PCGA , PCG and SPSF spotted the tugboat anchored in a nearby island, apparently having left the barge and coal near Binatican Island, also a part of the marine sanctuary.

Unburnt coal, when present in marine environments in sufficient quantities, can cause abrasion, smothering, alteration of sediment texture and stability, reduced availability of light, and clogging of respiratory and feeding organs of marine life (Ahrens and Morrisey, 2005)

Members of LGU’s of Taytay Palawan, PCGA , PCG and SPSF continue to monitor the situation closely because they are concerned by the potential environmental calamity should the barge be damaged and its cargo spilled onto the surrounding coral beds.

To date, a salvage team has gone to the site of the grounded barge to assess the situation. It appears that there has been some damage to the barge that would require minor repairs before it could be towed.

Time is of the essence as it is feared that further delay would cause greater damage to the barge’s hull as the vessel is continuously battered by both current and rocks, which would cause the coal spill, endangering surrounding marine life.

Save Palawan Seas Foundation is a non-profit organization that works alongside LGU’s and the Philippine Coast Guard to vigilantly monitor the environmental situation in the province.