EMB probes dumping of toxic waste in Tuba

Baguio city  – The Cordillera office of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB-CAR issued a notice of violation to the management of the Baguio Medical Center and its contractor for allegedly dumping toxic and hazardous medical waste in three areas in Taloy Sur, Tuba, Benguet over the past several days that have reportedly contaminated some tributaries of rivers not only in the municipality but also in neighboring Pugo, La Union.

EMB-CAR regional director Reynaldo S. Digamo said the issuance of the notice of violation to the hospital management and its contractors was an offshoot of the investigation conducted by the agency on numerous reports on the presence of various hospital wastes dumped with soil in some areas in Taloy Sur causing alarm among residents living in the area.

“We have scheduled the technical conference for all the concerned parties on Wednesday, August 1, 2018, after all of them shall have submitted their respective position papers on the issued notice of violation within a non-extendible period of ten days from receipt of the notice,” Digamo stressed.

The EMB-CAR official disclosed that  among the recovered hospital waste in the pinpointed areas where the alleged hazardous medical waste have been dumped by the hospital’s contractor include used syringes and vials.

He explained that the initial violations identified by the agency include the violation of the pertinent provisions of Republic Act 6969 or the Toxics Substance, Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act and RA 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act, as well as Presidential Decree (PD) 1586 or the Philippine Environment Impact Assessment Law.

Earlier, Tuba mayor Ignacio Rivera condemned the unabated dumping of the alleged hazardous medical waste in the town’s jurisdiction as he urged the EMB-Car to impose stringent penalties against those responsible for such illegal action as the presence of hazardous medical waste in their place has compromised the town’s environment and its people’s well-being and derailed the efforts of the municipal government in maintaining cleanliness in the municipality.

On her part, Pugo, La Union Mayor Priscilla Marrero-Martin also complained that the caretaker of the Tapuakan river, one of the tourist destinations in the town having been adjudged as the regional winner in the cleanest inland body of water in La Union for several years now, reported to her he recovered syringes, vials and other fresh medical waste along the river banks over the past few days brought down by the rains

Martin instructed the personnel of the municipal government and the Pugo Municipal Police Station to get in touch with their counterparts in Tuba to check on the matter and to consolidate their efforts to penalize responsible for the dumping of the alleged hazardous medical waste upstream that was carried downstream to their area of jurisdiction.

The Pugo local chief executive said that she will file a formal complaint with the office of the EMB Region I which has jurisdiction over their municipality copy furnished the EMB-CAR for the appropriate actions against those responsible for the dumping of toxic and hazardous waste in private properties that flowed down to the tributaries of major river systems in the lowlands.

Digamo explained that based on the initial investigation conducted by the agency, the alleged toxic hospital waste was dug up by the contractor from a portion of the BMC property near its hospital which is undergoing rehabilitation for its conversion into a parking area after its existing parking area was taken by the government for its widening project.

He claimed that the area where the alleged hazardous medical waste were dug up was allegedly used by the hospital as the dumpsite for its medical waste from 1999-2003 before the same was closed and covered with soil to date.

However, Digamo emphasized that the agency’s decision whether or not to impose the stringent fine against the hospital management and the contractor will still be dependent on the outcome of the technical conference that will be done for the purpose of ascertaining the liabilities of the parties in the said incident.

By HENT

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