19 August 2008

Green Groups Seek Transparency in Endosulfan Disposal

Quezon City. Public health and environmental justice groups urged the authorities to disclose how the toxic cargo from the sunken MV Princess of the Stars will be disposed once retrieved from the sea.

The EcoWaste Coalition called for the full disclosure of the comprehensive disposal plan following the announcement from Sulpicio Lines that retrieval will finally commence on August 31.

Experts from the European Union and the United Nations who surveyed the wreck site off Sibuyan Island have earlier stressed the need for such a plan “before the start of any salvage operation.”

Together with the Cavite Green Coalition (CGC), the EcoWaste Coalition sought assurance from the government that the endosulfan and other deadly cargo to be salvaged will neither get dumped nor burned in the Philippines.

“In the interest of chemical safety and the public’s right to know, we urge the Office of the President to unveil the disposal plan and confirm that the highly toxic cargo of MV Princess of the Stars will not find its way into any landfill, cement kiln or incinerator operating in the country,” Manny Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, said.

“This early, let it be known that the people of Cavite will not allow the disposal of endosulfan and other toxic waste at a private medical waste incinerator plant in Trece Martires City that supposedly obtained a clearance to burn pesticide waste,” cautioned Ochie Tolentino, Coordinator of the Cavite Green Coalition.

Barangay Aguado, where the incinerator is sited, is a potential toxic hotspot inhabited by approximately 40,000 citizens, including some 10,000 newly-relocated families from railway communities in Metro Manila, the CGC pointed out.

Republic Act 8749 or the Clean Air Act bans waste incineration and considers emissions resulting from the processing in waste facilities of chlorinated compounds, such as endosulfan, as toxic and poisonous.

Both the CGC and the EcoWaste Coalition raised the “return to sender” option or sending the recovered endosulfan back to its Israel-based manufacturer, the Makhteshim Agan.

“We cannot bear more communities to suffer from this toxic maritime disaster, as experienced by the people of Sibuyan and other fishing communities, by serving as disposal sites for endosulfan. No community is disposable,” the two citizens’ coalitions said.

A primer on endosulfan written by Dr. Meriel Watts, Coordinator of the Pesticide Action Network in Aotearoa (New Zealand) described endosulfan as highly toxic to humans as well as to fish, birds, bees, earthworms, beneficial insects and microorganisms.

Endosulfan is a known global toxic pollutant that causes acute health impacts, persists in the environment and biomagnifies in the food chain. Many governments and groups have called for its complete ban under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, which the Senate ratified in 2004.


EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

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