Quezon City. Groups working on chemical safety slammed the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) for sleeping on the job following admission that the endosulfan which sank with the ill-fated M.V. Princess of the Stars last 21 June 2008 are still in the country.
The EcoWaste Coalition and the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) criticized the agency for failing to implement the “return to sender” order almost six months after for the 10 metric tons of the highly toxic pesticide were finally retrieved from the sunken vessel off Sibuyan Island on 5 October 2008.
In a workshop on chemical accident prevention held in Pasay City on March 24-25, representatives of the agricultural and environmental departments, responding to a question raised by the EcoWaste Coalition, disclosed that the endosulfan are being kept in a storage facility outside Metro Manila.
A follow-up inquiry today with the Environmental Management Bureau confirms that the very toxic agrochemicals are temporarily stored in a fertilizer company located along Camalig Road, Meycauyan, Bulacan.
It will be recalled that the “Task Force Princess of the Stars,” headed by Usec. Elena Bautista, instructed the FPA to ship back the pesticide to the Israeli manufacturer, the Makteshim Agan.
Public health and environmental justice groups have pushed for “return to sender” given the country’s lack of appropriate facility that can safely handle and treat organochlorine pesticides like endosulfan. They also sought a total ban on endosulfan for all uses.
The groups, through the “Task Force Ban Endosulfan,” had previously written to the FPA inquiring about the status of the salvaged pesticide, but did not receive any reply.
“This is a gross negligence by the authorities that could endanger again both the public health and the environment. Those accountable should be held liable and prosecuted,” Dr. Romy Quijano, President of
“We call upon the FPA to act swiftly to remove the now banned pesticide out of the country and not to wait for another chemical emergency to happen,” Manny Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, stated.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) last 26 February issued Memorandum Circular 2009-02 imposing a temporary ban on the importation, distribution and use of endosulfan in the country.
Sec. Atienza, in a press release, explained that “the temporary ban on endosulfan is consistent with the mandate of the DENR to protect the public and the environment from any undesirable risk hazards on its continued use.”
Citing information from International Persistent Organic Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) website, PAN and the EcoWaste Coalition warned that the excessive and improper application and handling of endosulfan have been linked to congenital physical disorders, mental retardations and deaths in farm workers and villagers in developing countries in southernAsia, Africa and Latin America.
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