(Metro News) Makati declares state of calamity in Barangay Bangkal due to oil leak

September 28, 2010 10:55 am 

MANILA, Sept. 27 — The city government of Makati placed Barangay Bangkal under a state of calamity on Monday following the appeal of residents who sounded the alarm about the oil leak problem at the West Tower Condominium located in the area.

A resolution placing Bangkal under a state of calamity was unanimously approved by the Makati City Council during a special session Monday morning.

The resolution was based on the recommendation of Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. who headed the Task Force West Tower, an inter-agency group that was formed to determine the source of the gasoline leak at the building.

The task force is composed of several city government offices, among them the city Engineering Department, Department of Environmental Services, Health Department, Bureau of Fire Protection, and Makati Rescue.

National government agencies have also been asked to join the task force, among them the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources- Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB).

“The city will also ask the College of Engineering and the National Institute for Geological Studies of the University of the Philippines to send experts,” Binay said.

The resolution allows the city government to utilize the calamity fund to address the crisis, said Ana Luz Cristal, secretary to the Sangguniang Panglungsod (City Council).

Cristal said five percent of the city’s budget is allotted for the calamity fund.

“The amount will be used to fund the conduct of investigation and how the Task Force West Tower could take urgent measures to stop the leak from affecting nearby buildings, houses and residents,” she said.

“The situation there is very volatile right now and the mayor wants to resolve this incident immediately,” she added.

The official declined to give an estimate of the city government's calamity fund. She, however, said that the city's budget last year was about P9 billion.

Cristal said the city government expects to spend much for the testing to be done because it is specialized. Likewise, contractors would also be hired to put an end to the leak.

Cristal said the City Council convened an emergency session on Saturday afternoon upon the request of Mayor Binay to discuss the need for a calamity declaration over Bangkal.

Earlier, the Barangay Council of Bangkal said residents "have been living anxiously and in fear that the event will lead to a more dangerous occurrence."

To date, over 200 drums of gasoline have been hauled from the basement of the building but the substance continues to accumulate at a rate of 10 drums a day.

Several residents have also complained of the presence of petroleum in their deep wells. Some also reported the odor of petroleum in the air.

The oil leak, which was first discovered last July 12, was initially blamed on the First Philippine Industrial Corporation (FPIC) which operates a commercial pipeline a few meters away from the West Tower building.

The pipeline system conveys oil from refineries in Batangas province to the Pandacan oil depot in Manila.

The Makati City government, however, cleared the company after no leaks were detected in the pipeline.

Makati City Information and Community Relations Department Chief Joey Salgado said the company is now using a ground-penetrating radar to double-check the source of the leak after the flooding at the building’s basement was contained. (PNA) scs/CLTC

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