Gov’t Selling Protected Seas to TNCs – Environmental Groups

Far reaching effects

The resolution also underscored the far-reaching effects of oil and gas exploration even during its exploratory or prospecting stage prior to production and extraction. Citing experts’ studies, Casiño said, offshore mining causes a significant amount of air pollution. He said each offshore oil platform generates approximately 214,000 pounds of air pollutants each year.

Casiño said an average exploration well for natural gas could generate 50 tons of nitrogen oxides, 13 tons of carbon monoxide, 6 tons of sulfur dioxide and 5 tons of volatile organic hydrocarbons.

Pamalakaya and FIDEC asserted that oil and gas drilling operations produce huge amounts of water waste ranging from 1,500 to 2,000 metric tons of highly toxic water waste materials per drilling.

The seismic tests, which are part of the exploration stage, damage the hearing organs of marine species, cause hemorrhage in body tissues, and damage their reproductive organs.

Both groups also said seismic blasting can cause behavioral modifications and reduce or eliminate available habitat for breeding, spawning, foraging and migration. Seismic noises can alter fish distribution by tens of kilometers and can elicit physiological stress on neural-immune responses in marine organisms.

Seismic tests damage plankton eggs and larvae found in the immediate vicinity of airgun, and reduce catches in commercial fishers. It also damages swim bladders of fishes and lungs of marine mammals.

In their joint briefing paper, both groups said oil and gas exploration activities could lead to massive production of other toxic waste materials such as cadmium which causes lung cancer; lead which causes gastrointestinal diseases, blood and kidney disorders, mental retardation and affects the nervous system; chromium which causes lung and liver cancers, kidney and other respiratory illnesses; and arsenic which causes lung, liver and skin cancers.

“We have these glaring cases of destruction, but the Philippine government through the Department of Energy are pushing these projects despite the problems posed by offshore mining activities to the livelihood of small fishermen and marine environment and these undertakings’ implications on the country’s natural resources, national patrimony and sovereign rights of the people,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said.

Also in Panay

Hicap said aside from Central Visayas, investors in offshore mining are now encroaching on the waters of Antique in Panay Island, Palawan, Ragay Gulf in Bicol and other parts of Mindanao to confirm oil deposits.

Hicap and Ms. Geobelyn Lopez, convenor of the Iloilo City based environmental group Save Our Seas, S.O.S!- Panay and Guimaras confirmed news reports about the plan of the Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corp (PNOC-EC) -the government-owned and controlled corporation and the Malaysian oil firm Petronas Carigali Overseas Snd Bhd (PCOSB) to undertake a joint exploration off the coast of Culasi town in Antique starting third week of August up to third week of next month.

The offshore mining site is 12 kilometers south of Maniguin Island in Culasi town, about 61 kms. north of the capital town of San Jose. The site is 58 kilometers from Boracay Island and 260 kilometers from Batangas province. It covers 14,667 square kilometers and is located east and south of Mindoro Island and west of Panay Island.

“The Guimaras oil spill tragedy and the corporate takeover of Panay waters for offshore mining is too much,” said Lopez of Save Our Lives, SOS!- Panay and Guimaras group. “We have resisted and will continue to resist these oil exploring syndicates from wrecking havoc in Western Visayas,” she added.

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