SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union, Philippines – An undetermined volume of unleaded gasoline has leaked into the sea from a break in the pipeline of the Flying V fuel depot in Poro Point here yesterday.
Barangay councilor Butch Funesto, Poro Point pollution control officer, said the accident occurred while the M/T King Jr. was unloading gasoline through the pipeline to the fuel depot.
Funesto said the pipeline leaked because of the heavy pressure of gasoline being unloaded from the vessel.
“The pipe is only six inches in diameter. Usually the standard size should be eight inches in diameter so it can accommodate the load from the ship going to the fuel storage,” Funesto explained.
Funesto estimated that more than 30,000 liters of unleaded gasoline has leaked out as of noon yesterday, som of which has already reached the coast.
Funesto said a spill boom was installed along the seashore to contain the spill.
Two tankers of Flying V were rushed to the scene to pump out the gasoline while some residents in the coastal areas tried to collect the spill in plastic containers.
Mayor Pablo Ortega ordered Flying V to speed up the cleaning and coordinate efforts with the Coast Guard and environment officials to contain the spill.
“We will immediately act on this before it would affect the sea and the ground water,” Ortega said.
The gasoline spill comes in the aftermath of last week’s bunker fuel leak in the Petron pipeline in Rosario, Cavite.
The Coast Guard had ordered the deferral in the flushing of the estimated 60,000 liters of bunker oil from the Petron depot in Cavite to allow sealing off the leakage in the 2.6-kilometer pipeline.
Coast Guard National Capital Region-Central Luzon commander Commodore Luis Tuason Jr. said it would be more environment friendly if they seal off the leakage before they push the oil back to the depot.
Work crews from Petron, along with Herma Shipping Lines and the Coast Guard, have succeeded in plugging two main leaks along the pipeline by applying two coatings of putty cement and covering them with steel brace and clamps.
Tuason, however, said these are only temporary measures.
Tuason estimated a liter of oil is being leaked from the pipeline every 10 minutes.
But the situation so far, according to Tuason, has been contained.
The Maritime Environment Protection Command (Mepcom) had put up two layers of oil spill booms and sorbent pads at the scene to stop the oil from spreading.
The oil leak occurred at the height of typhoon “Basyang” on July 13 when motor tanker M/T Baliwag of Herma Shipping Lines reportedly hit the pipeline, cracking and twisting some portions of the pipe causing it to release small amounts of bunker oil.
In another development, Tuason said that they are still conducting a gas test on the M/T Deborah Uno, the half-submerged vessel in Bataan, to determine if the tanker was still leaking.
“If there is still a leak, that is mixed with air, and there is an igniter then it could explode. But if there is no more leak, then maybe we could ask Petron if they could already transfer the contents to another tanker,” he added.
The Coast Guard has sent additional men to cordon the 500-meter wide area surrounding the M/T Deborah Uno that contained 197 metric tons of propane.
Earlier measurements of the oxygen level of the gas outside the tank showed that it has reached five percent. The flammable limit is between 2.2 percent and 9.5 percent, thus making an explosion possible.
But there is a way to avoid the explosion, Tuason said.
He said they would just have to keep the temperature inside the tanker and the pressure outside the tanker within range to ensure that the liquid propane cargo would not turn into gas.
He explained that the propane liquid is multiplied several times, about 270, and if it turns to gas, the carbon steel container of the vessel might give way to the intense pressure.
The LPG tanker listed after being battered by huge waves at the height of Basyang in Limay, Bataan.
In another development, a cargo ship caught fire early yesterday while it was loading container vans at Pier 16, North Harbor in Manila
Initial investigation showed the fire broke out at the engine room of the cargo ship M/V West Ocean-1.
Responding firemen managed to contain the blaze with no reported casualties or injuries. With Evelyn Macairan