Pandacan oil depot
The Pandacan Oil Depot is a 33-hectare compound in Pandacan, Manila, Philippines. It houses the storage facilities and distribution terminals of three major players in the country's petroleum industry, namely Caltex (a petroleum brand name of Chevron Corporation), Petron, and Shell. The oil depot takes its roots from separate establishments by these oil companies.
The continued operation of the oil depot in a densely populated major city has been a subject of various concerns, including its environmental and health impact to the residents of Manila.
Shell established facilities in 1914. Caltex began using the Pandacan warehouse depot in 1917, when it started marketing its products in the Philippines. Eleven years later, its Pandacan warehouse depot was converted into a key distribution terminal to bring products to nearby provinces. Petron followed suit in 1922.
Incidents and concerns
The continued operation of the oil depot in a densely populated major city has been a subject of various concerns, including its environmental and health impact to the residents of the adjacent community surrounding the compound, as well as to the larger Manila population. International standards allow oil depots to operate within a 20-kilometer radius buffer zone, away from residential and commercial establishments which would be directly affected by the facility’s everyday operations and impending accidents in the future.
In 1997, two Shell oil tankers exploded inside the oil depot complex. In 1999, a pipeline leak was the source of fires in Muntinlupa City, killing one. In January 2008, a tanker burst into flames at the foot of the Nagtahan fly-over. In 2005, the UP College of Medicine at the University of the Philippines Manila conducted the cross-sectional study which found that the number of cases of neurophysical disorders in the area surrounding the area have been progressively increasing. In the same year, a health survey proved that the air surrounding the oil depot contains high levels of benzene, a chemical compound known to increase risks of cancer.
In July 2010, the leak of the underground pipeline of the First Philippine Industrial Corporation (FPIC), which carries oil from the oil refineries in the province of Batangas to Pandacan, caused the contamination of water bed table at the basement of West Tower Condominium in Bangkal in Makati City.
In 2013, the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) General Manager Nereus Acosta fined the operator of the depot with P200,000 daily due to environmental violations in the Pasig River, which runs thru Laguna Lake.
The Polytechnic University of the Philippines, the largest university in the Philippines in terms of student population (approx. 40,000), is located directly across from the depots on the banks of the Pasig River.
In 2001, the Manila City Council passed Ordinance No. 8027 that changed the classification of Pandacan from an industrial to a commercial area. It gave the oil depot six months to cease operating in the area.
In 2006, Ordinance No. 8119 ordered the phasing out of hazardous industries in the city, including the depot. In 2009, Ordinance 8027 was upheld by the Supreme Court of the Philippines; while the City Council passed Ordinance No. 8187 to negate the first ordinance. This time, Pandacan was re-classified as a heavy industrial zone, allowing the depot to operate.
In 2012, Ordinance No. 8283 re-classified the area as a high-intensity commercial zone, thus giving the oil depot until 2016 to relocate, but was vetoed by then Mayor Alfredo Lim. The proposal instead is to transfer the facilities to the North Harbor, still in Manila.
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