28 February 2011

Green Groups Urge Mayor Lim to Safely Dispose TVs Seized from Illegal Gambling Activities in Manila

Environmental and health groups today urged officials of the City of Manila not to crush television sets confiscated by police authorities in the intensified campaign to demolish illegal gambling activities, but instead to dispose of the electronics properly.

Last week, Mayor Alfredo Lim led the smashing of 70 units of “video karera” (VK) TVs with a mallet and the burning of several color game boards at the Bonifacio Shrine next to Manila City Hall. Mayor Lim also destroyed 13 VK TV sets last February 14.

As confirmed by Manila's Department of Public Services to the EcoWaste Coalition, the broken TVs were then brought to the Pier 18 garbage transfer station in Tondo, Manila and then transported by barge to a sanitary landfill in Barangay Tanza, Navotas City.

In a statement, groups constituting the Project E-Waste Action Now! (Project EWAN) expressed their serious concern over the way gambling equipment seized from illicit VK operators are destroyed and disposed.

“We laud and support the unfaltering drive to stop addictive gambling activities that deflect youth attention away from their school and family responsibilities. But, we call Mayor Lim’s attention to the hazards of crushing or burning the confiscated gambling paraphernalia,” said actor Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, which initiated Project EWAN to catalyze awareness and action on e-waste issues.

“The smashing of TV screens causes dangerous chemicals in the equipment to be dispersed into the surroundings and thus jeopardizing public health. People smashing the screens are exposing themselves to airborne toxins and glass shards when the screen implodes,” said lawyer Richard Gutierrez of Ban Toxics and coordinator of Project EWAN.

“Burning painted game boards releases toxic fumes, including cancer-causing pollutants, into the atmosphere that can aggravate the air quality and trigger serious ailments,” added Manny Calonzo of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.

The groups had sought the advice of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on how to safely dispose the unwanted VK units, which are typically old and almost defunct imported TV appliances.

“The confiscated video karera TVs are better sent to government-accredited electronic recyclers where these can be dismantled in controlled conditions that will minimize toxic discharge into the environment,” suggested Engr. Geri Geronimo SaƱez of the Hazardous Waste Management Section of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).

Waste television and other spent consumer electronics, or e-waste, due to their toxic make-up, require environmentally-sound management and should not be dumped, landfilled, incinerated or even recycled in unregulated conditions, the groups said.

Televisions are known to contain in its various components hazardous chemicals such as brominated flame retardants, cadmium, lead, mercury and several other chemicals.

Among the toxic materials found in TVs, lead, a chemical that attacks the brain, is a major concern. Lead can be found in the cathode ray tube (also known as the picture tube, monitor or screens), depending on the size and model of the TV, can contain as much as four to eight pounds of lead.

According to a factsheet published by the EcoWaste Coalition, exposure to lead can damage the nervous system as well as the gastro-intestinal and immune systems. It is very toxic to humans, especially for developing foetuses and young children.

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Note:

The information regarding the disposal of the broken TVs was provided to the EcoWaste Coalition by Mr. Lex de los Reyes of Manila DPS in a phone call this morning (phone number: 5279636).

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