The City Government of Davao, through the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO), cautioned Dabawenyos residing near the Suawan, Tamugan, and Davao rivers against swimming and fishing there as these could pose risks to their health and lives after a tanker carrying a corrosive chemical fell into a 50-feet ravine near the Suawan River in Sitio Lanitom, Barangay Suawan in Marilog District on Tuesday morning, August 2.

CDRRMO chief Alfredo Baloran, in an interview over 87.5 Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR) newscast on Tuesday, August 2, said the truck driver was killed while his helper was wounded and treated on-site by EMS Unit.

Baloran said the tanker truck was transporting sodium hydroxide, also known as caustic soda, which he said is “very harmful.”

“Makapaso gyud sa atong panit kung direct mabutang sa atong mga panit. Mag-cause pud ni sya nga magsuka ang tao o mag-diarhhea. Ubang effect ani magsakit ang tiyan ug dunay difficulty in breathing (It can burn our skin if we come in direct contact with it. It will also cause a person to vomit or have diarrhea. It will also cause stomachache and difficulty in breathing),” he said.

Sodium hydroxide, a corrosive compound, is used in the manufacture of soaps, paper products and even explosives.

It is also used for bleaching and electroplating, among others.

Contact with very high concentrations of sodium hydroxide can burn the skin, eyes and even internal organs such as the lungs, which could kill a person.

Baloran said, “Pahibalo sa atong mga kaigsoonan labi na mga namuyo daplin sa sapa gikan sa Barangay Suawan to Barangay Tamugan down to the Davao River, likayan usa nato, dili lang usa ta magangaligo, dili lang usa ta mangisda sa pagkakaron kay gina examine pa sa atong mga concerned offices. Gina-examine pa sa DENR-EMB, BFAR, and CAgro-Fishery Division ang tubig sa sapa kung unsa gyud ang epekto sa nahulog nga sodium hydroxide (We are notifying our brothers and sisters, especially those who live along the river from Barangay Suawan to Barangay Tamugan down to the Davao River, to avoid taking baths or fishing in the river for the time being because it is still being examined by our concerned offices. The DENR-EMB, BFAR, and CAgro-Fishery Division are still examining the water in the river to see the effects of the sodium hydroxide).”

The USAR Unit and BFP-SRF personnel, whom he said have a HAZMAT (hazardous materials) team, were dispatched to the incident area for a clearing operation. Police personnel are also making their rounds to caution residents near the affected rivers.

He, however, assured Dabawenyos that the rest of the chemicals inside the truck were already contained but what concerns them the most is when there is a heavy downpour.

“Ang kabalakhan man gud namo sa CDRRMO ang impact kay basin kung naay kusog mag-ulan, muapaw ang tubig, maanod ang chemicals sa sapa. Ginatan-aw karon sa mga personnel sa Bureau of Fire,

naa’y specialized unit ga-examine aning chemical spill (We at the CDRRMO are really worried about its impact because maybe if there is heavy rain, the water will overflow, the chemicals will be washed into the river. Personnel of the Bureau of Fire, they have a specialized unit, are examining this chemical spill),” Baloran said.

He added that since the chemical spill happened in Suawan River, there is a possibility that it would reach the other tributaries of the Davao River through the Tamugan River.

The City Health Office, according to him, is also ready to respond and provide necessary medical help to residents whose health might be compromised due to the chemical spill. CIO