EMB to summon those responsible for acid spillage in Davao’s streets

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 9 Sept) – The Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources will summon to a technical conference the consignee and broker of the hazardous formic acid that spilled in the streets near Kapitan Tomas Monteverde Central Elementary School last week.

In an interview Tuesday, EMB toxic, chemical, hazardous waste management staff Romina Legal said that Amado Dee and Fely Morata will be invited to meet with the Bureau of Fire Protection, Business Bureau, as well as officials of Barangay 3-A to discuss the spill that caused a pungent odor to spread across Ponciano Street last Thursday morning.

Dee was identified as the owner of the chemicals while Morata, the substance’s broker.

Legal said the EMB has yet to schedule the meeting since its chief of Pollution Control Division still has to study the report.

City Council environment committee chair Leonardo Avila III said the chemical spill raised a lot of questions about how the city handled hazardous materials and how these materials were transported.

“Why was the truck parked in front of a school? Do they have a purpose of unloading it?” Avila asked.

Avila said that the matter should have been pointed out as soon as the shipment arrived at the port, with customs officials already asking whether the consignee was an accredited transporter of the hazardous chemical.

The councilor said Bangoy Fire Station responders, as well as members of 911, had protective gear to prevent themselves from inhaling the substance.

However, seven laborers of the consignee were treated for dizziness at the City Health Office after inhaling the chemical when they were hired to help clean up the mess.

According to a report by the CHO, the container truck that carried the plastic containers overturned because it was parked on a loose part of the road, which was being repaired.

This caused the chemicals to spill to the roads.

Avila said this was an opportunity for the city to invest in a quick response, inter-agency team that would address these kinds of situation.

“I found out that the spill happened as early as 1 a.m., and the people there didn’t know who to call,” Avila said.

The EMB’s initial report said the spill happened around 1:45 a.m. of September 4, Thursday, when the truck loaded with 800 plastic containers overturned. Only three of the containers, each with a capacity of 20 liters, spilled the contents.

The report said the container truck was already gone during the investigation.

According to the initial report, the containers were retrieved and transported to Bukidnon by the owner.

The cargo was picked up from the Sasa wharf a day earlier, September 3, at around 4 p.m.

According to a copy of the bill of lading for ocean transport, the cargo was imported from Xingang, China through vessel MCC Shenzen.

The truck driver, Regildo Tigdo, was instructed to transport the container van to Ponciano Reyes Street and to park in front of Matitot Eatery, which was across the Kapitan Tomas Elementary School.

The report added two containers at the site had labels indicating flammability and corrosiveness of the materials being handled.

According to the EMB, they went to the Philippine Ports Authority in Sasa regarding the container and found out through a bill of lading provided by PPA terminal supervisor Carlito Santos that the container van contained around 1,400 drums of formic acid.

The broker of the chemicals, according to the report, was a certain Fely Morata.

Earlier this year, the city government created a multi-agency task force to properly regulate and ensure safe practices of persons and entities handling or engaging in businesses involving flammable, hazardous, toxic or dangerous substances.

The EO said the task force will determine the appropriate action relative to the proper enforcement of all applicable laws that govern the proper management, transport and distribution of these chemical substances.

Leonida Polestinos, principal of the school, said they automatically announced the suspension of classes until there was an advisory that it would already be safe for the students to go to back to their classrooms.

It was learned from the Department of Education that there was no report of injuries so far from students of the elementary school.