06 June 2018

Toxics watchdog calls for support to government project

In the country’s bid to be among the first to eliminate the persistent organic pollutant (POPs) called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), toxic watchdog EcoWaste Coalition calls on public to support government efforts to deal with its stockpiles of said toxic chemical.

Ecowaste Coalition pertains to the Safe PCB and E-Waste Management Project of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), an agency under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The project is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

Their public call was sounded during their announcement of PCB-Free EnviRUNment: Onward to a Toxic-Free Philippines, an event under the Safe PCB and E-Waste Management Project, that will be held on June 10, 2018 in Intramuros, Manila. The event is the project’s participation to the Philippine Environment Month that is held annually in June.

According to Ecowaste National Coordinator Aileen Lucero, “We are happy that the government, through the EMB-DENR, is actively working towards the safe management and disposal of PCBs in the Philippines. This is very important as it is our commitment when we signed the Stockholm Convention almost two decades ago.”

The Stockholm Convention on POPs was adopted by the Conference of Plenipotentiaries on 22 May 2001 and was ratified by the Philippines on 27 February 20014. The convention initially listed 12 POPs for elimination but the list ballooned to 28 since.

Lucero also explained that PCB refers to polychlorinated biphenyls, found in oils widely used as dielectric fluids in old transformers and capacitors. She added that these highly toxic chemicals were banned from use before the 1980s, though many of which remain in use today.

The EMB-DENR project, according to Lucero, seeks to safely manage and dispose of 600 tons of PCB oil and PCB-contaminated electric transformers through partnerships with electric cooperatives and other agencies.

The government, through the National Resources Development Corporation, maintains and operates a PCB destruction facility in Mariveles, Bataan that applies non-combustion technology to treat PCB wastes.

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