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Around 500 Families in Bauan Forced to Relocate Due to Hazardous Chemical Leak!

Nov 13, 2023, 2:48 AM
Priam Nepomuceno/OpinYonBatangas

Priam Nepomuceno/OpinYonBatangas

Writer

BAUAN, Batangas -- More than 460 households were relocated last week following a hazardous chemical spill in this town as reported by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO).

According to a news report from GMA Regional TV News, some of the affected individuals suffered from symptoms like vomiting and sore throats due to the strong odor in the vicinity.


The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) identified the leaked chemical as a solvent commonly used in paint production.


The most widely used aromatic hydrocarbon solvents in paint are benzene, toluene, mixed xylenes, ethylbenzene (BTEX), and high-flash aromatic naphthas; aliphatic hydrocarbons include hexanes, heptane, VM&P naphtha.


Some hydrocarbons can cause other effects, including coma, seizures, irregular heart rhythms, or damage to the kidneys or liver an online source said.


Examples of products that contain dangerous hydrocarbons include some solvents used in paints dry cleaning and household cleaning chemicals.


The contamination of soil and groundwater with BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylenes) is a common issue at petrochemical sites, posing a threat to the ecosystems and human health concerned citizens aver.


Local authorities traced the Bauan leakage was traced back to a storage facility described as a terminal depot, functioning like a tank farm.


Commander Jun Layosa of the Bauan Coast Guard Substation stated, "It was from a terminal depot. It was like a tank farm. That was the source of the spill."


The storage facility admitted that the solvent had leaked from a tank with an improperly sealed hole. Additionally, the depot's barrier was elevated, causing the chemical to spill into the sea.


Emil de Roxas, responsible for the depot, explained, "We open it when it's raining. We forgot to close it, but only a small amount leaked. Based on our calculations, our loss was approximately one drum."


The report noted that around 200 liters of chemicals had spilled into the sea. Consequently, the local government of Bauan issued an order to shut down the company operating the depot.


Although the PCG successfully contained the leakage, swimming, and fishing in the area remained prohibited due to the chemical spill as of this writing last week.


The PDRRMO confirmed that the evacuated families have since been allowed to return to their homes.

OCD: Batangas chemical spill now under control

MANILA – The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) announced Tuesday night that the chemical spill incident in Bauan, Batangas that began over the weekend is under control.

"The recent chemical spill in Batangas is now under control, and all evacuees have safely returned to their homes. Immediate containment and cleanup operations were conducted along the affected shoreline. According to reports, the chemical has naturally dissipated," OCD administrator Undersecretary Ariel Nepomuceno said in a statement.

Nepomuceno said 53 families, consisting of 248 individuals, who were affected by the incident have returned to their homes.

"We express our gratitude to the local government units, the Philippine Coast Guard, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for their prompt response to the incident," he said.

The families living in the coastal area of Barangay San Miguel in Bauan town were earlier evacuated due to the chemical spill, which began on Nov. 4.

The spill occurred when two drums of the hazardous substance solvent naphtha leaked due to an "untightened drain plug" of the storage tank of a nearby facility that receives, stores, and distributes chemical products.

The spill, which affected 6,000 square meters, also resulted in fish kill incidents.

Naphtha solvent is commonly used as an additive in paints and thinner products.

Exposure to this chemical can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat. Prolonged and excessive exposure may result in more severe health consequences.

Meanwhile, Nepomuceno also emphasized the importance of companies implementing preventive measures to mitigate the risk of chemical spills.

"In collaboration with our regional counterparts in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, and Quezon) we will continue to monitor the impact of this incident and take necessary actions. Ongoing investigations are currently being conducted by the authorities. Additionally, we strongly urge companies to exercise caution and implement stringent measures to prevent similar incidents," he added. (PNA)


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