Zero waste and chemical safety advocates lauded Tarlac provincial authorities and citizens’ groups for questioning the disposal of the controversy-ridden imported Canadian garbage in a landfill facility in the town of Capas.
To manifest their solidarity with the Tarlaqueños, the EcoWaste Coalition has forged links with the Coalition of Concerned Citizens of Bamban and has organized a delegation comprised of concerned environmental groups to observe the Tarlac Provincial Board meeting scheduled on Thursday.
“We stand in solidarity with the Tarlac government and people in their efforts to stop a precedent-setting disposal of illegal trash from Canada and ensure the protection of the public health and the environment. Canada cannot simply bury the evidence of this case of gross environmental injustice in our soil and get away with it,” said Rene Pineda, Vice-President of the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network of over 100 public interest groups.
Tarlac Governor Victor Yap on Monday suspended the dumping of the illegal garbage imports from Canada at the Capas landfill owned by the Metro Clark Waste Management Corp. until the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has submitted a certification on the results of the Waste Analysis and Characterization Study (WACS) conducted by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) in November 2014.
According to a DENR-provided summary of the WACS conducted on three of the 50 container vans, 63.94% of the Canadian garbage shipments were residuals, 33.25% recyclable mixed plastics, 2.35% recyclable mixed metals, 0.24% electronic waste and 0.23% glass bottles.
Based on the WACS results, the DENR and the Canadian Embassy had both insisted that the controversial trash shipments “are neither toxic nor hazardous.”
Tarlac Vice-Governor Enrique Cojuangco, Jr. stated in a TV interview aired yesterday that “whether toxic or not, it is not good if another country dumps its trash in our country.”
“We urge the Tarlac local authorities not to swallow the questionable WACS results hook, line and sinker and to reject the findings for being inconclusive in terms of giving full assurance as to the ‘safety’ of the waste materials for landfill disposal,” Pineda said.
Aside from the limited sampling size, Pineda pointed to the failure of the WACS to accurately characterize the composition of the controversial Canadian garbage.
Quoting from the government-issued “General Guidelines/Procedures in Conducting Waste Characterization Survey/Study,” Pineda said that “when analyzing solid waste composition, it is necessary to obtain the following information: total quantities of waste, bulk (density), moisture content, and composition (physical and chemical).”
The said WACS guidelines form part of Appendix A of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, which also prohibits the importation of toxic wastes misrepresented as “recyclables” or with “recyclable content.”
“The most that the WACS did was to describe the physical composition of the waste samples, albeit rather limitedly. That’s obviously inadequate to ascertain the ‘safety’ of the samples. No assessment was done on the biological and chemical properties of the samples and their associated hazards to human health and the environment, including their potential impact to surface and ground water,” he explained.
“The heterogenous nature of the Canadian garbage shipments, which include food discards, soiled diapers, e-waste and plastics, may lead to the formation of toxic leachate later on that can pose adverse effects on health and the environment,” he pointed out.
A study on plastics published in 2014 by the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation in cooperation with the EcoWaste Coalition and other environmental groups from Bangladesh, India and South Africa stated that “environmental pollutants in the form of various types of plastic additives, monomers and decomposition products risk polluting surrounding land and water.”
Among those going to Tarlac to support the provincial board meeting include Ban Toxics, Cavite Green Coalition, Consumer Rights for Safe Food, Freedom from Debt Coalition-Cebu, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Krusada sa Kalikasan, Miriam PEACE, Mother Earth Foundation, November 17 Movement, Zero Waste Recycling Movement of the Philippines Foundation and the EcoWaste Coalition Secretariat.
Statement from Vice-Governor Enrique Cojuangco, Jr.:
http://www.naturskyddsforeningen.se/sites/default/files/dokument-media/rapporter/Plastic-Report.pdf (see page 37, landfill section, no.2)
Additional information re toxic leachate:
“When liquids continue to be present – or when precipitation later reenters the site – leachate is formed that drains out of the waste load, carrying with it toxic substances such as vinyl chloride, benzene and toluene which are ubiquitous in household and commercial trash. There, at the bottom of the landfill, the dangerous effluent is poised to leak through any breaches in the liner into the underlying water table, which all too often connects to our drinking water supplies.” (Lanier Hickman, Jr., “Principles of Integrated Solid Waste Management, pp 411-412)