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Steel plants to DENR: Be fair in pollution probe

/ 06:00 AM December 08, 2017

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO— Five steel smelting plants have appealed for fairness from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which has been investigating their factories for alleged air pollution.

Melters Steel Corp., Real Steel Corp. and Wan Chiong Steel Corp. in San Simon, Pampanga province; Metro Dragon Steel Corp. in Caloocan City; and Davao Mighty Steel Corp. in Davao City—all members of the Philippine Induction Smelting Industrial Association (Pisia)—aired the appeal following what they described as the “inappropriate timing” of the agency’s collection of air samples at plant sites.

The Clean Air Philippines Movement Inc. (Capmi) and the DENR separately took samples in October and November during hours when the plants were not operating, Pisia treasurer, Irwin Chua, told the Inquirer on Wednesday.

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“How can the pollution be attributed to us when the samples were taken when the plants were not running?” said Chua whose company, Real Steel Corp., had installed two filters to capture dust and other particles.

It was Capmi’s air quality monitoring report that prompted Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to order an investigation of the operations of the five plants.

“Elevated particulates concentration is directly associated with the industrial locators nearby and vehicular activities along nearby thoroughfares,” the Capmi report said.

At least 11 of 12 sites showed total suspended particulates exceeding standards set by the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999.

According to Chua, the five companies melt steel scraps from 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. when electricity from the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines is cheaper.

“We are hoping that the DENR would be fair in the conduct of this probe,” he said.

It was not clear if Capmi also took air samples near or around a company that burned batteries to separate lead, using old tires as fuel.

Gerry Capulong, officer in charge of the air quality monitoring division of the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), said the investigation team was still writing its report but could not say when this would be released to the media or to the erring firms.

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Capulong said he believed Pisia felt that its members were “singled out” for using induction technology in smelting steel.

Video footage obtained by the Inquirer showed smoke billowing through the roofs, instead of chimneys, at Wan Chiong and Melters plants on Wednesday.

Both companies were  subjects of notices of violations, and cease and desist orders issued by the EMB in July.

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TAGS: DENR, investigation, Pollution, steel plants
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