Philippines: Oil Spill Impacts Marine Life, Human Health

    Philippines: Oil Spill Impacts Marine Life, Human Health
    Last updated Mar 07, 2023
    Image credit: cnn


    • Last week, the MT Princess Empress — an oil tanker carrying 800K liters of oil — sank off the coast of the Oriental Mindoro province in the Philippines. The oil has now reached the shores of nearby areas including fishing villages, coating them in a thick and oily sludge.[1]
    • The spill has impacted 34 marine protection locations across 10 municipalities. The protected area is home to acres of marine life including coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrasses.[2]
    • Vincent Gahol, a provincial disaster response officer said, "the oil spill has reached the shoreline...these are not just traces. People are getting pails of black and sticky sludge in some places." Seawater samples collected indicate the water is not just contaminated with the oil from the cargo, but also the engine oil used to operate the tanker.[3]
    • In addition to sickening the marine life, both residents and responders to the incident have reported feeling ill with symptoms such as cramps, vomiting, and dizziness. Clean-up workers have reported that just inhaling the vapors of the oil could cause nausea and headaches while skin contact with the substance can result in itching and blisters.[1]
    • Gahol indicated that it may be difficult to pinpoint the exact location of the tanker to retrieve the remaining leaking oil. Meanwhile, in response to the oil already reaching shore, the Philippine Coast Guard is utilizing booms and dispersants aimed at protecting vulnerable communities.[4]
    • Oriental Mindoro Governor, Humerlito Dolor, said that the spill will cause local fishermen and residents who earn their living through tourism to lose their livelihoods, but that these people will be fairly compensated.[5]


    Narrative A

    The Philippine government must act quickly to contain and clean up this oil spill. The damage done will negatively impact food security and livelihoods in the immediate area for a long time to come. More than 2M people and marine life are at risk because of this accident and life needs to return to normal as expeditiously as possible. But it is also an opportunity, at the national level, for the government to end its commitments to fossil fuels and to begin leading the globe in environmental protection.

    Narrative B

    The world's greed and profiteering leads to thousands of oil spills each year. There are few practices in place governing the recovery from such accidents. The technology for such clean-ups is outdated and not very effective. The soaring increases in fossil fuel consumption drive up the need for drilling, extraction, and subsequently transporting. As the demand increases, so will the likelihood of spills, and thus the fallout of oil spills will continue to damage the environment until a change is sought — this is an international issue in scope.

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