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Say “No” to thermal Waste to Energy facilities

By: Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos - CDN Digital | January 30,2020 - 09:30 AM

 

Last Monday, January 27, a Notice to Sue was served on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for issuing DENR Administrative Order (DAO) 2019-21 establishing the guidelines for Waste-to-Energy (WTE) facilities in the country.

Said Notice declared that WTE is “a euphemism for incineration or the burning of solid wastes. Incineration, including all thermal WTE Technologies, emits toxic fumes including among the most toxic substances known: Dioxin. Dioxin is a known human carcinogen. Cancers linked to Dioxin include the following: Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), Soft-tissue sarcoma, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Respiratory cancer (of lung and bronchus, larynx, and trachea) and Prostate cancer. It has known reproductive, developmental and immune system impacts. Apart from human health impacts, there will be adverse impacts on ecosystems, biodiversity, agriculture, waterways, forests from long range transport and deposition from dioxins, acid gases, metals, in addition to contribution to global greenhouse gases.”

In  a press briefing which this columnist participated representing Oceana, Glenn Ymata, the Senior Campaign Manager of NBP declared that “The DENR continues to defy the laws that mandate them to protect Filipinos from environmental harm and danger by proposing and allowing waste incineration, a quick-fix false solution to our waste problem. DAO 2010-06 and recently DAO 2019-21 are just concrete examples of how the agency circumvents RA 9003, RA 8749 and other laws that would ensure our constitutional rights to a balanced and healthful ecology.”

For Dr. Paul Connett,  a staunch anti-incineration advocate, proponent of the Zero Waste Movement, “While landfills bury the evidence (of wastefulness), incinerators burn them. This is true of incinerators no matter what fancy name is used to describe them – WtE, thermal valorization, gasification, pyrolysis or plasma arc facilities.”

“Preventing and reducing the country’s escalating garbage problem is at the core of implementing RA 9003. For 20 years now, this continues to be a major struggle for the lead coordinating and implementing agencies – NSWMC and DENR,” added Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, lead counsel of the NBP, emphasized that “By extending a blanket clearance for WtE projects through DAO 2019-21, it places itself above the law in violation of the prevailing ban on incineration. We are serving notice to DENR: rescind DAO 2019-21 now or be sued.”

The Notice to Sue is a requirement provided by law to take as a prelude to availing of the remedy of a Citizen Suit under the Clean Air Act, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and the Fisheries Code, as amended.

Citizen suit is a right afforded to citizens and those representing others to sue to enforce rights and duties mandated by environmental laws.

It is high time that the Government exercise its powers and duties to untrash our oceans from millions of sachets, plastic bottles, straws and cutlery, and other single use plastics (SUP) thrown into it every second. How? By stopping and reducing its production at source.  By including SUP in the list of non-environmentally sound materials – and releasing it, the National Solid Waste Management Commission, mandated to do so within one year from the effectivity of RA 9003 eighteen years ago, we would have adequately reduced and stopped the source of plastic pollution ravaging us and our environment. This policy issuance would have already  lifted the financial woes and physical burden of finding a landfill and the dire environmental justice issues and health consequences that are now lodged with the local governments to face, who are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of single-use plastics issues they are compelled to find solutions to.

Any person and public officer conscious of the importance of health and a healthy environment, should be wary of  proposals to establish thermal “waste-to-energy” facility in one’s community.

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