NAVAL, BILIRAN, Philippines – Eight workers of the Biliran Geothermal Incorporated (BGI) were hurt in a gas poisoning at the geothermal project site in Barangay Cabibihan of Caibiran town this province at 2:20 p.m. last June 19.
Based on a medical report from the Biliran Provincial Hospital, where they were given immediate treatment, the eight BGI workers suffered from hydrogen sulfide (H2S) poisoning.
In a report posted at biliranisland.com, the hospital document also showed the victims showed signs and symptoms of difficulty of breathing, and dizziness while three of them also experienced vomiting and another one with altered consciousness.
The report further identified the victims as Honey Roy Romero, 28, from Barangay Atipolo of Naval; Victor Rosario, 37, from Cabibihan of Caibiran; Nolan Maceda, 55, from Antipolo City; Armando Licup, 55, from Manila; Lee Marvin Moran, 40, from Palo, Leyte; and Johaines Smari Pararinsson, 41, Kevin Kasler, 49, and Thorstein Sigmarsson, 47, all from Zitieze, Iceland.
Less than 24 hours after their gas exposure, geologist Licup, reservoir engineer Maceda and Icelandic consultant Sigmarsson have fully recovered and were able to attend a BGI meeting later on.
According to BGI, other affected personnel, deputy resident engineer Pararinsson, and safety supervisor Moran were taken to the Ormoc Doctors Hospital where they were later scheduled for discharge.
A source from the BPH said that safety consultants Romero and Kassler were airlifted to Cebu City for further medical treatment at Chong Hua Hospital, and were accompanied by Dr. Jet Solite of BPH.
The rest of the victims were confined at the BPH and latest report said all of the poisoning victims were already in stable condition.
In an update at 11 a.m. Friday, the BGI issued an official statement over 103.9 Radyo Natin FM regarding the gas leak incident at their drilling site. This was also put on live streaming at Radyo Natin of biliranisland.com
The BGI, in its statement released to biliranisland.com said: “Initial investigation shows that H2S was controlled and it was an ammonia-like gas that caused the drowsiness of the staff. There was no serious injury and the situation is stable already. Once the investigation is complete we will release details of the incident.”
Meanwhile, BEAM, a multi-sector group led by the Diocese of Naval issued a press statement, signed by BEAM chairperson Crisantema Pastor and Bishop Filomeno Bactol, saying the incident “validates our apprehension that this project poses a great risk on the environment and the lives of the people and communities living nearby.”
BEAM then issued the following concerns and demands: an immediate temporary stoppage of the BGI drilling operation to pave the way for a thorough investigation by government agencies; inclusion of BEAM in the investigating and monitoring team; and a full disclosure of the results of the investigation to the public. (FREEMAN)