US group asks UN to file case vs Canada for dumping waste in PH
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Basel Action Network (BAN) based in Seattle, Washington, on Monday asked the secretariat of the United Nations on the Basel Convention to file a case against Canada following the dumping of 26 container vans of waste in a sanitary landfill in Capas, Tarlac.
Jim Puckett, BAN executive director, proposed legal action on behalf of its Philippine partner, BAN Toxics, by filing an official notification of noncompliance by Canada with the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal. The notice was contained in Puckett’s July 27 letter to Dr. Rolph Payet, Basel Convention executive secretary.
The Philippines and Canada signed the convention which was adopted on March 22, 1989, in Basel, Switzerland, and enforced beginning 1992. The United Nations Environment Program is a partner in implementing the convention.
The convention’s website said the agreement was “in response to a public outcry following the discovery, in the 1980s, in Africa and other parts of the developing world of deposits of toxic wastes imported from abroad.”
Puckett said the convention is “at risk if we do not respond to one of the most well-publicized, egregious and unresolved cases we have seen in recent years.”
“We ask that the secretariat take up this case and utilize the mechanism [for promoting implementation and compliance with the Basel Convention] as it was intended to be used,” he said.
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) seized 103 container vans that an importer, identified as Jim Makris, brought in several batches since May 2013 because these were misdeclared to be containing “scrap materials.” The container vans were consigned to Valenzuela City-based Chronic Plastics.
The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) reported three of 55 container vans to be packed with “municipal solid wastes.”
BOC was ordered by a Manila Regional Trial Court in April to dispose of the wastes in 34 container vans and return the empty vans to the owner, Zim, through its local agent, Le Soleil.
BOC chose to use the landfill of the Metro Clark Waste Management Corp. (MCWMC) in Sitio Kalangitan in Capas town.
Canadian Ambassador Neil Reeder said in June 2014 that Canada had no domestic or international authority to compel the shipper to return the shipment to his country.
Also on Monday, Clark Development Corp. (CDC), MCWMC and Tarlac Vice Gov. Enrique Cojuangco Jr. turned down the proposal of Gov. Victor Yap to pay P1 million to MCWMC to remove the Canadian trash dumped in the landfill and return these to BOC.
“Talks about donation or payment is immaterial, to say the least, because [the Tarlac provincial government] has prohibited the disposal of foreign wastes,” said Arthur Tugade, CDC president and chief executive officer.
CDC, tasked by law to convert Clark, a former United States military air base, into civilian use, owns the property where Kalangitan landfill operates.
Yap offered to pay P1 million in a letter to Tugade on July 22.
Tugade said Tarlac officials and residents need not worry about further dumping of Canadian trash because MCWMC had installed additional duplicate locks on eight container vans that BOC delivered on July 15. BOC had not sent more containers.
Rufo Colayco, MCWMC president and chief executive officer, said Yap’s offer was unnecessary. “Maraming salamat ho (Thank you). We are not after the money. What is important is we do what is right and that means agreeing to the request of BOC to dispose of the garbage and disinfect the container [vans],” he said.
“We respect the decision of Tarlac officials not to accept wastes of foreign origin,” he added.
Cojuangco disagreed with paying MCWMC. “I think it’s wrong to be paying them when we should be suing the parties involved. The Senate should investigate the incident [because] the violations [are] greater than the realm of local government scope,” he said.
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