Manila Fixes Crematorium’s Environmental Violations

To the delight of clean air advocates, the Manila City Government has initiated moves to improve the operation of the city’s public crematorium after being found to be in breach of some environmental rules.

“We find the remedial steps being undertaken by the Manila Health Department (MHD) very encouraging,” stated Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We trust that all environmental control measures will be satisfactorily fulfilled to allow  the crematory to resume its service in a manner that will not pollute the surroundings and harm the public health,” she added.

Last Tuesday, the EcoWaste Coalition received a copy of MHD’s response to the Notice of Violations (NOV) signed by Vizminda Osorio, Regional Director of the Environmental Management Bureau – National Capital Region (EMB-NCR) on November 29, which cited the facility’s non-compliance to some provisions of the Clean Air Act’s Implementing Rules and Regulations and other environmental regulations.

The EcoWaste Coalition had earlier complained with the EMB-NCR about the crematory’s lack of Permit to Operate, which expired on May 13, 2014, and its air pollution emissions.    

In his reply to the NOV issued by the EMB-NCR, Dr, Benjamin Yson, Acting City Health Officer of Manila, committed to secure a Permit to Operate for the crematorium, as well as to register the facility as a Hazardous Waste Generator. 

The MHD likewise confirmed that “corresponding fees and penalties shall be paid” with a request for reduced amounts since the crematorium provides free cremation for the remains of indigent families.

To lower the crematorium stack emission to “acceptable level.” the MHD pledged to implement mitigating measures, including replacing and/or installing pollution control devices.

It further said: “the smoke stack’s height shall be made higher and the cleaning device shall be installed accordingly.”

The MHD designated Engr. Bryan Baltazar as Pollution Control Officer for the crematorium located at the entrance of the Manila North Cemetery.  Among other duties, he shall be responsible for the submission of the crematory’s periodic Self-Monitoring Reports (SMRs) to EMB-NCR.  

The Manila City Government shall also undertake a bidding process “for a third party to conduct regular laboratory tests” to determine the crematorium's compliance with emission standards.

“We also hope that the MHD will voluntarily create a pollution monitoring committee comprising of various stakeholders, including representatives from the adjacent barangays, nearby institutions and other concerned groups,” Lucero said.

“This will surely foster meaningful citizens’ participation in monitoring the facility's compliance with relevant environmental regulations, and buoy up public confidence in the facility’s operation,” she further said.

According to the MHD, 770 cadavers were cremated in 2015 at the said facility.  For the past three-quarters of 2016, 573 remains were cremated there.