EMB tells Zambo fishing firm to explain gas leak

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 5 March) – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has served a notice of violation giving a fishing firm seven days to explain why they should not be penalized under the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999 after ammonia gas leaked from the company’s ice plant.

Sixto Tolentino Jr., regional director of the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), issued the notice against E&L Fishing Industries after 179 people were hospitalized for suffocation, nausea and eye irritation following the gas leak Wednesday evening last week.

At least 200 families, or some 1,200 people, were reportedly forced to leave their homes and temporarily sought shelter at the Ayala National High School to be away from the firm’s plant at Calle Fatima in Barangay Ayala, 16 kilometers west of this city.

Tolentino served the notice of violation to E&L last Thursday and copies of which were furnished to Mayor Celso Lobregat and Ayala barangay chairman Diosterides Librero.

Tolentino has given the fishing company seven days to reply.

Renwel Balili, a checker at the E&L ice plant, disclosed that the ammonia gas leaked when an ice molder fell and hit one of the plant’s cooling system pipes.

Balili disclosed that when the incident happened, they were scheduled to produce ice to be supplied to the different local fishing firms that were expected to resume operation since the closed season for commercial fishing ended last Wednesday.

Tolentino, in his letter addressed to E&L, said “your project has violated” one of the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) requirements which states that “the operations shall conform to the applicable provisions of Republic Act 8749 otherwise known as the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999.” (MindaNews)