09 May 2009

RP’s breakthrough project on PCBs garners support

Quezon City. Environmental and chemical safety advocacy groups expressed support for a breakthrough multistakeholders initiative that will rid the country of some highly toxic industrial chemicals

The Ban Toxics, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Health Care Without Harm and Mother Earth Foundation welcomed the United Nations-backed effort to safely address the country’s stockpiles of polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, a group of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), using a non-combustion approach.

The groups issued the statement as they mark the "Toxic Awareness and Action Week" from May 9-15, which is being observed in conjunction with the meetings of the International Conference on Chemicals Management and the International Maritime Organization.

Dubbed as the “Non-Com POPs Project,” this will assist the Philippines in meeting the goals of the Chemical Control Order for PCBs issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) by ensuring the safe handling and environmentally sound storage and destruction of PCBs. The CCO sets a phase out target for PCBs by 2014.

The project will also comply with the requirements of the Stockholm Convention on the destruction of POPs that will not result to the formation and release of dioxins and furans to the air, water and soil.

It will further help the Philippines implement certain provisions under the Global Plan of Action of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).

“The ‘Non-Com POPs Project’ will help our nation in dealing with PCBs in a manner that will not cause any further toxic harm to our people and the ecosystems. We commend the public-private partnership that is working doubly hard to make this happen,” said Rey Palacio of the EcoWaste Coalition.

A general assembly in the host community in Barangay Batangas Dos, Mariveles, Bataan will take place today, May 9, to assure the populace of the safety and ecological soundness of the project and to strengthen community ownership and participation in the pioneering project.

The “Non-Com POPs Project” has earlier elicited the support of Sen. Jamby Madrigal, Chair of the Senate Committee on the Environment, who said that “the non-combustion treatment of our stockpiled PCBs is a strategic milestone in our quest to rid our nation of toxic health and environmental contaminants.”

“Let a PCBs-free Philippines be our shared gift to all Filipino children and youth of this generation and next. I commend the project participants from the public and private sectors, particularly the NGOs promoting the chemical safety agenda,” she said in a statement.

The “Non-Com POPs Project” is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) as the implementing agency, the DENR – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) as the national executing agency and the Philippine National Oil Company – Alternative Fuels Corporation (PAFC) as the operating entity.

The other project partners include Meralco, National Grid Corp. and the National Power Corp. from the private sector and the concerned non-government organizations from the public sector.

As the preparation for the “Non-Com POPs Project” goes in full swing, the public interest groups called on the government to continue with the effort to complete the national inventory of PCBs and ensure their safe management and ultimate destruction in the soon-to-be launched facility.

PCBs are thin, clear to pale-yellow liquids generally used as dielectric fluids in old electrical transformers and capacitors. They persist in the environment for very long time, enter the food chain and accumulate in human and animal tissues.

Considered as possible carcinogen, PCBs, according to three new studies, alter brain development and produce neurobehavioral problems in children, among other health problems associated with the chemicals.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

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