Monday, November 12, 2012

Toxic waste dumping

The sensitive issue of toxic waste-dumping had again taken center stage when MT Glenn Defense Marine Philippines, Inc., a Singapore-based sub-contractor responsible for the collection of toilet and kitchen wastes of the United States Navy ships, was criticized for allegedly violating the environmental marine laws of the Philippines.

When the name of the United States Navy came into the picture, the immediate reaction of Philippine environmentalists and critics was that the ships that were used to dump those hazardouz wastes had ignored the provisions set forth in the VFA.

As to how this mess had gotten out of hand, the public is yet to find out exactly. But based on the news reports that circulated in the print, broadcast and online media, it appeared that what the sub-contractor did was not in accordance with established environmental laws of the Philippines after the ships belonging to Glenn Defense Marine Philippines purportedly dumped the said toxic wastes into the waters off the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

However, (Ret.) Vice Admiral Mateo Mayuga, CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Philippines, Inc., disputed the allegations that those toxic wastes came from American ships that took part in the recent joint military exercises in the Philippines.

Mayuga was quoted as saying that reports circulating in the media were not true at all, adding that the multinational company is operating in 27 countries to collect domestic wastes from the toilets and kitchen of US Navy ships that are first treated for safe disposal into the international seas.

The issue was played up after an official of the SBMA reportedly told media the vessels owned by the Glenn Defense Marine Philippines were carrying sewage wastes with high levels of toxicity.

However, Roberto Garcia, chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), had denied this during a live phone interview with ABS-CBN's Headstart anchored by Karen Davila on Tuesday (Manila time).

"Perhaps, I was just misquoted by reporters during an interview," Garcia said. He said he would be meeting with concerned government agencies to discuss matters surrounding the issue at hand.

In the meantime, Adan said that the VFA has no jurisdiction in so far as the toxic-dumping issue is concerned. The VFA official added that this issue is under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in so far as marine violations are concerned.

As this developed, the VFA Commission said the controversy has nothing to do with the agreement between the US government and the Philippines.

The sub-contractor for waste collection and disposals is a private company that will be made liable under the environmental and marine laws of the Philippines should concerned agencies found out that its ships indeed dumped toxic wastes within the country's territorial waters.

 Government officials claimed that the said toxic wastes were dumped 37 miles off the coast of the SBMA, which is already considered international waters.

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