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Shipowner faces violation notice for alleged discharge of untreated wastewater in Manila Bay

THE DEPARTMENT of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said on Thursday that it will be issuing a notice of violation against the owner of MV Sarangani, which was identified as the source of untreated wastewater dumped at the Manila Bay over the weekend.

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu visited the area Monday where he discussed the incident with the coast guard and local authorities. In a media release issued on Thursday, he was quoted as saying that they hope to get to the bottom of the issue.

Samples taken from the discharge area showed a level of effluent fecal coliform at 1,700 most probable number per 100 milliliters (MPN/100 mL), said DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas R. Leones.

The standard effluent fecal coliform level is at 200 MPN/100 mL.

Meanwhile, data from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) also showed that ambient fecal coliform stood at 2,400 MPN/100 mL, higher than the standard 100 MPN/100 mL. Oil and grease traced to MV Sarangani reached 19 milligrams per liter (mg/L), which exceeded the standard of 5 mg/L.

“We found out that the wastewater from the vessel is above the standard of the DENR. On this basis, we can now issue a Notice of Violation to the owner,” Mr. Leones said.

A technical conference will be held to hear MV Sarangani’s side.

Once due process is completed, the EMB and coast guard will file a case against the shipowner before the Manila Bay Task Force.

Mr. Leones said the shipowner may face charges for violating the Clean Water Act, the Marine Pollution Decree, and Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, among others. “If held liable, based on the provisions of the Clean Water Act, the vessel owner has to pay a daily fine ranging from P10,000 to P200,000 from the start of the discharge until such time that it has cleaned up the affected area,” the DENR said.

To prevent similar incidents, Mr. Cimatu said the department will implement a 2.5 kilometer no-entry zone for vessels, except for those that will deliver dolomite for the DENR’s ongoing beach nourishment project in the bay. — Angelica Y. Yang

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