June 14, 2014, Silang, Cavite. Residents of Barangay Maguyam in this town are still suffering from foul and obnoxious odors emanating from a controversial hazardous waste treatment facility.
“We are constantly suffering from foul smells coming from Cleanway Technology Corporation (CTC). We can smell chemical odors day and night and these smells are often so strong that they trigger headaches, nausea, eye irritation, stomach aches and induce vomiting especially in our children,” said Erlinda Olivo, a resident of the said barangay.
Located inside the Meridian Industrial Complex, CTC is one of the biggest hazardous waste treatment facilities in the country. The company treats various hazardous waste ranging from acid and alkaline waste to pesticides, infectious and special waste containing heavy metals.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) against CTC in September 2013 for the company’s failure to address leaking chemical odors, poor handling and storage of hazardous waste, absence of wastewater treatment and dumping of untreated hazardous wastes in their landfill.
Despite these glaring violations, the DENR only imposed a fine of P 450,000 and has continued to allow the company to operate.
Lack of systematic ambient air monitoring and the non-disclosure of industries’ emissions data have prevented Maguyam residents to determine the quality of the air that they breathe and identify presence of chemicals that could have short or long term effects on their health.
To generate their own data, Olivo and other barangay residents recently underwent training on pollution monitoring organized by EcoWaste Coalition, Cavite Green Coalition and Philippine Pollution Monitor. Volunteer pollution monitors are now systematically recording various obnoxious odors coming from the CTC and other industries in Maguyam. Monitors have recorded various odors smelling of rotten eggs, nail paints, ammonia and acids among others, and incidences of odor leakages for 24-hours since the month of May.
“It is evident that Cleanway continues to violate our environmental laws. Yet, DENR continues to do nothing and treat these foul odors coming from the plant as a mere nuisance rather than attribute these smells to possible chemical pollution. The people have the right to know what the industries around them are releasing to the environment. Full public pollution disclosure will avert ecological degradation and minimize, if not prevent, future chemical leaks and disasters from happening,” said Eloisa Tolentino, Coordinator of CGC.
The CTC has already received various complaints in the past years due to chemical leaks from its plant and its poor environmental compliance. In October 2009, more than 100 residents were hospitalized for various complaints such as dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty of breathing and asthma attacks due to extremely strong chemical smells coming from Cleanway.
This year, CTC changed its name to Cleanway Environmental Management Solutions Incorporated (CEMSI).