Tuesday, June 30, 2009

PRESS RELEASE: NGOs vow to back project to ecologically eliminate PCBs

NGOs and individual advocates of public health, chemical safety and environmental justice expressed support for a groundbreaking project to safely and ecologically eliminate the country’s stockpiles of the persistent organic pollutants (POPs) polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) minus combustion.

In a statement presented during a forum themed “Working Together for a PCBs-free Philippines” at the conclusion of the June environment month, some fifty individuals representing more than thirty NGOs initially expressed their support for the project, which is called the “Non-Com POPs Project” for it’s non-employment of combustion in the safe destruction of PCBs and other POPs.

During the forum, Environmental Management Bureau’s (EMB) Ms. Angie Brabante, national focal point for the Stockholm Convention on POPs and Engr. Edwin Navaluna, national coordinator for the “Non-Com POPs Project,” gave straightforward discussions about PCBs, their hazards, and the need to immediately deal with them in an ecological manner through the United Nations backed project.

Navaluna announced further that “construction of the non-combustion treatment facility at the Philippine National Oil Company – Alternative Fuels Corporation (PNOC-AFC) industrial park in Mariveles, Bataan should be underway this August.”

Ms. Helen Cervantes of PNOC-AFC increased further the NGOs confidence about the project with her talk about the company’s sincere commitment and efforts in addressing community concerns about the project.

According to the NGOs’ statement, the Philippines would benefit greatly from the project health- and environment-wise as this would help the country:

1. Fulfill the Constitutionally-guaranteed rights of the Filipino people to health and to a balanced and healthful ecology;

2. Abide by the Chemical Control Order on PCBs issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that directs the phase out of PCBs by 2014;

3. Build its capacity to manage the stockpiles of PCB oils and PCB-contaminated equipment and materials through a robust, closed-loop non-combustion technology in line with the incineration ban under the Clean Air Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

4. Carry out its obligations under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) requiring governments “to prohibit the production, import, export and use of all PCBs,” and implement the “Action Plan Addressing PCBs” in the National Implementation Plan for the said treaty.

5. Set a good example for developing countries in the safe and environmentally-sound management of POPs stockpiles that avoids the unintentional release of dioxins and furans, which the newly-formed PCBs Elimination Network (PEN) can learn from and replicate.

In concluding their statement of support for the project, the NGOs called on EMB to “pursue the inventory and monitoring of all [of the country’s] stockpiles of PCBs” and ensure that all such chemicals are duly accounted for and safely managed for subsequent treatment at the project facility in Bataan.

The NGOs also appealed to the “Bureau of Customs to remain vigilant against the probable entry of PCB transformers disguised as ‘recyclables’ or ‘donations’ for rural electrification as other countries get rid of their own stockpiles of PCBs.”

Finally, in acknowledgement of the necessity of “working together to realize a toxics-free future,” the NGOs committed to “educate the public about PCBs and the project, and participate in efforts to ensure the safety of our ecosystems and our people, especially our children, women, industrial workers, waste handlers, and informal recyclers, against exposure from PCBs and other harmful chemicals.”

The lively forum also saw the launched of the EcoWaste Coalition’s latest superhero – The PCB Eliminator – to help in raising public awareness about PCBs and the “Non Com POPs Project.”

PHOTO RELEASE: New Superhero out to eliminate PCBs

“The PCB Eliminator”, EcoWaste Coalition’s newest addition to its league of green heroes, with a mission to champion the safe and non-burn elimination of the toxic pollutants polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), is joined by chemical safety and environmental justice advocates in a bid to eliminate the country’s PCBs stockpiles, as shown in this photo taken during the “Working Together for a PCBs-free Philippines” forum on 30 June in Quezon City. (Photos by Gigie Cruz)

Monday, June 29, 2009

PRESS RELEASE: New superhero for chemical safety bared, cheered

A new chemical safety superhero, clad in yellow and black and carrying a shield that bears the slogan “Dump Not! Burn Not!” has joined toxic prevention advocates in a bid to rid the country’s stockpiles of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

At a forum held in Quezon City to conclude the June environment month, the masked hero who calls himself “The PCB Eliminator” vowed to protect the Filipino people from PCBs, a class of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) commonly used as dielectric fluids in electrical transformers, capacitors and coolants.

“The ‘PCB Eliminator’ is the latest addition to our own league of green heroes with a special mission of protecting our people and the ecosystems from harm caused by exposure to these harmful substances,” said Rey Palacio of EcoWaste Coalition.

“The ‘PCB Eliminator’ will enlist public and private support for the non-incineration treatment of PCBs in the country that will ensure public and environmental health and safety,” he added.

The new green crusader joins the other heroes of the waste and pollution watchdog, namely “Boy Bayong,” an advocate against single use plastic bags, and “Super WA” (for “Walang Aksaya”) a champion for Zero Waste.

To the delight of forum participants, Environmental Management Bureau’s (EMB) Engr. Edwin Navaluna, the National Project Coordinator for the Non-Combustion POPs Project, announced that “the construction of the treatment facility employing a robust technology for the safe and non-burn elimination of PCBs and PCB-contaminated equipment, should be underway this August.”

Navaluna, who gave a brief talk about the project before the more than fifty attendees of the forum themed Working Together for a PCBs-free Philippines said that “the project fits very well with the policy objectives of the Chemical Control Order (CCO) for PCBs.”

The CCO for PCBs was issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to reduce and eliminate the use of PCBs, and regulate their transport, treatment and disposal to protect the human health and environment.

In support of the project, the participating NGOs adopted a statement expressing “full support, commitment, unity and action to contribute to the nation’s efforts toward the phase out and total elimination of PCBs by the year 2014 as targeted in the CCO for PCBs.”

“The pioneering Non-Com POPs Project will demonstrate the efficacy of environmentally-sound and safe non-burn approach for managing PCBs, and will surely contribute to both local and global push to eliminate PCBs and advance chemical safety,” Manny Calonzo of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) said.

“Its successful implementation has the potential of setting a precedent among developing countries in the sound management of POPs involving all stakeholders, including public interest groups,” he stated.

PCBs, which are targeted for elimination in the country years ahead of the Stockholm Convention goal, belong to so-called “dirty dozen” POPs that includes pesticides, industrial chemicals and unintentional byproducts of industrial and combustion processes,

With an estimated quantity of five million tons of PCBs oil and contaminated equipment worldwide, PCBs are reportedly among those that are widely distributed globally.

Preliminary inventories undertaken by the EMB yield some 6,879 tons of PCB containing equipment and wastes, comprising about 2,400 tons of PCBs oil. These are mostly found in electrical utilities and cooperatives, industrial establishments and manufacturing plants, servicing facilities, military camps and hospitals.