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The Observer: Panic follows Shell oil leak

Panic follows Shell oil leak
Conal Walsh
Sunday March 26, 2006
Shell faces sharp criticism in the Philippines this weekend after a large oil spill at its controversial depot in Manila, the country's capital, writes Conal Walsh.
An estimated 25,000 litres of oil leaked from a storage drum at the giant Pandacan plant on Friday, reportedly emitting a pungent odour that caused panic among some of the shanty-town dwellers who live on the outskirts of the plant.
Although the leak was quickly brought under control, the incident will heighten calls among local politicians and international activists for Pandacan to be closed. They have long warned that the depot's location in the densely populated heart of Manila makes it a prime target for Islamic terrorists.
'A major incident at Pandacan, even an accident such as the one we saw at the Buncefield depot in England, would almost certainly lead to catastrophic loss of life,' said Craig Bennett of Friends of the Earth.
In response to fears of terrorism, Shell has increased security at Pandacan and scaled back its operations there, decommissioning the oil tanks that most closely border residential areas.

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