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Philippine Daily Inquirer: Oil overflow revives talks on depot relocation

Tina G. Santos and Margaux C. Ortiz
Mar 25, 2006
THE GASOLINE OVERFLOW INCIDENT at the Pandacan oil depot in Manila on Thursday has strengthened the city governments stand that the oil facility should be shut down.
We never had any talk about the oil firms staying in Pandacan. The city governments stand remains that the oil firms would have to leave the area, especially after the Thursday incident, Mayor Lito Atienza told the Inquirer yesterday.
Gas overflowed from a storage tank of Caltex Philippines on Thursday morning, alarming residents living near the oil depot. The gasoline apparently came from a pipeline in a storage farm inside the depot.
Although depot officials said the problem was immediately contained, Atienza said he would immediately sign the ordinance changing the areas classification from industrial to commercial/residential.
The reclassification of the area under the Manila Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Zoning Ordinance of 2005 would make it unsuitable for the depot to continue operating. The ordinance was supposed to take effect in April 2003 but the oil firms have taken the matter to court. As a compromise, the oil firms signed an agreement with the city government to scale down their operations in the depot and to provide a green buffer zone between the oil tanks and the residential area.
However, Atienza stressed that the agreement does not supersede the ordinance which called for the facilitys closure. Were urging the oil firms to accelerate the removal of all other structures, they must vacate the area, he added.
The depot on the southern bank of the Pasig River near the Nagtahan Bridge is maintained by the countrys three biggest oil firmsPetron, Caltex and Shell. It consists of large manufacturing and storage facilities for petrochemicals that are connected by pipelines to refineries in Batangas province.
Residents living near the depot appealed to the oil companies to conduct their social responsibility programs in the area to make up for the facilitys continued presence in the city.
The residents were alarmed at the overflowing incident on Thursday morning, but we know that it would be impossible for us to call for the immediate transfer of the depot, Domingo Seposo, chair of Barangay 836 in Pandacan, told the Inquirer. Apart from ensuring environmental safety, they should also conduct some of their medical missions here, he said.
Seposo said the residents acknowledged the importance of the oil depot, but stressed that they should also receive compensation for the looming dangers the facility posed like oil spills and explosions.
Seposo explained that they formed the Fence Line Community for Human Safety and Environmental Protection to conduct regular dialogues with officials of the oil companies to share their concerns.

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