Oil Pollution

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Pollution of water bodies by crude oil and petroleum derivatives is recognized by many governments today. In the USA, stringent laws with heavy penalties for violators regulate the amount of oil in the ground water.

In the state of New Jersey, for example, the ground water of a site must be tested for the presence of oil, gasoline, kerosene, etc. before any structure is given a building permit. If the ground water tests positive, the law requires that the water must be free of oil contaminants before a permit is issued.

And the law is always enforced! I know this because my son, an environmental geologist, heads a technical company that performs the required tests for the leakage of oil from oil depots, such as gasoline and diesel fuel filling stations. What his company does in the state of New Jersey is test the ground water in the vicinity of oil depots for the presence, as well as the amount of oil contaminants in the water.

I think the Philippines should likewise follow the requirement of developed nations especially with regard to the quality of water consumed by the people. The DENR should be the lead agency of the national government to implement such laws.

Under our system of government, the local government units are equally tasked to provide safeguards for water supplies, whether they are used for direct human consumption or they are reserved for other purposes.

I am told that the regional DENR office in Cebu City and two officials of the government of Dumaguete City issued permits for the construction of a gasoline station in Tubod, Dumaguete.

Tubod, as every long-time Dumaguete resident knows, is the site of a ntural spring, which is the source of water for the residents.

Unfortunately, the Tubod spring area has been developed. The spring itself is no longer prominent, and the area has become more prone to flooding, which is the natural way of spreading various kinds of pollutants. (Flooding of this part of Dumaguete is by itself a problem waiting to be addressed by the City government.)

About 28 residents led by Prof. Jocelyn Somoza-de la Cruz signed a letter-petition addressed to Cenro Mario Aragon dated May 31, 2010, objecting to the construction of the gasoline station on the ground of possible pollution of the spring water.

The petition asked for an environmental impact study and consultations with the Tubod residents. Impact studies are needed these days when we are facing environmental onlaughts from changes in climate patterns that are already evident.

Apparently, this letter-petition has been ignored by the concerned authorities.

The argument that the gasoline station should be constructed because it will bring about progress in Dumaguete is rendered untenable because of the risk of pollution of the water source. The health and well being of people should be given a higher priority under a sound governance system.

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