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Oil Spill in Estancia Iloilo Province, Western Visayas, Philippines Resulting from Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda)

Subject/Objective: 

A significant spill of heavy oil (bunker C type) occurred when Power Barge No. 103 ran aground at the
shores of Estancia during the height of typhoon Haiyan. Between 21 and 23 November, environment
experts from the Philippines Environmental Management Bureau visited the site of the oil spill
together with a United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) environment expert,
and a public health expert from the World Health Organization, in order to jointly undertake a
preliminary assessment of the threats the spill poses to human health, livelihoods and the
environment.

Current estimates by the management of the power barge amount to around 800,000 litres of oil
having leaked. As the ruptured tanks continue to leak and up to 600,000 litres of oil remain in the
tanks, the amount of spill is increasing steadily. Urgent action is required to pump out the remaining
oil or seal the holes in the tanks.

Most of the spilled oil has washed ashore, contaminating the coast and mangroves up to 10
kilometres downstream. The containment booms deployed are not sufficient to effectively contain
all of the free phase oil in the water. The free phase oil has been blown ashore by southeastern
winds so far. A change of wind direction or a tropical depression could further complicate the
containment of the free phase oil. A faster, mechanical clean-up process with oil skimmers is urgently
required.

An urgent need for recovery and clean up equipment and expert advice has been identified. A
request for technical assistance to the Environmental Management Bureau in Iloilo has been
received by the United Nations on 22 November and an oil spill clean-up expert was deployed on 27
November.

Temporary workers who have been hired for the clean-up operations continue to stay close to the
site of the accident. The workers are currently exposed to significant occupational health risks due to
the unsafe and ineffective practice of manual recovery of free phase oil in the open water and the
insufficient and inappropriate provision of personal protective equipment. Immediate change in the
management of the clean-up operation is required in order to protect the workers from
unacceptable health risks.

The contamination of the coast is putting the resident population at risk from accidental fires and
other physical injuries. The chemical risk to the affected population is limited as long as direct
contact with contaminated debris is avoided. The physical risk to the people sheltering in the
immediate vicinity of the oil spill has been mitigated with the evacuation of most of the population
to a temporary evacuation centre. With every day the clean-up process is delayed, the affected
population does not get the opportunity to recover and will continue to depend on humanitarian
relief.

Methodology: 

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Key findings: 

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Assessment Report: 
Assessment Questionnaire: 
Publicly Available
Assessment Data: 
Publicly Available
Operations(s)/Webspace(s): 
Assessment Date(s): 
30 Nov 2013
Status: 
Report completed
Population Type(s): 
All affected population
Leading/Coordinating Organization(s): 
United Nations Environment Programme
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
World Health Organization
Location(s): 
Estancia
Theme(s): 
Environment
Disaster(s)/Emergency: 
Typhoon Haiyan - Nov 2013