Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Aquino urged to act quickly to remove endosulfan from RP

Environmental groups have asked President Benigno Aquino III to "act
quickly" in removing a highly hazardous pesticide in a Bulacan
warehouse before it becomes "a toxic challenge."

Ten metric tons of endosulfan — which can cause severe physical
deformities, even death, among others — should be "shipped out fast"
by the shipment’s owner Del Monte, the EcoWaste Coalition, Global
Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and Pesticide Action
Network (PAN) said in a statement.

Without swift action, the Philippines is at a great risk "of
inheriting a toxic legacy," Dr. Romeo Quijano, president of
PAN-Philippines, said in a statement.

“We cannot afford to move at a snail’s pace," said Manny Calonzo,
co-coordinator of GAIA, adding that “storing endosulfan, a costly and
dangerous task, is the last thing that our cash-strapped and
toxic-ridden nation needs."

“It’s time for the endosulfan to go and get destroyed in a safe
manner. We urge all parties, including Del Monte, to cooperate to
ensure that Bulacan and the whole country is endosulfan-free," said
Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition, in the same statement.

The hazardous materials — salvaged in October 2008 from the MV
Princess of the Stars which sank in the waters off Sibuyan Island in
June of the same year — are currently stored in the facility of
Vertical Fertilizer Chemical Corp. in Meycauayan, Bulacan.

The shipment is in the process of being transported out of the country
for its destruction, Fertilizer Pesticide Authority Norlito Gicana
told GMANews.TV in a text message.

The matter is currently being handled by Anneli Lontoc, an
undersecretary for road transportation at the Department of
Transportation and Communication (DOTC).

Text messages sent to Joan Marfil, Lontoc’s assistant, have been unanswered.

The DENR in February 2009 temporarily banned the importation,
distribution, and use of endosulfan in the country, stressing the need
“to protect the public and the environment from any undesirable risk
hazards on its continued use."

Meanwhile, the United States and Canada recently joined a growing list
of countries, now numbering 69, that has taken action to ban
endosulfan, a chemical being targeted for a global ban under the
Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

The Pest Management Regulatory Agency of Canada recently withdrew
support for the use of endosulfan, citing the concern for workers’
safety, the risk posed to non-target organisms and persistence of
endosulfan in the environment and the potential for bioaccumulation.

In June, the US Environmental Protection Agency decided to end all
uses of endosulfan after assessing that endosulfan “can pose
unacceptable neurological and reproductive risks to farmworkers and
wildlife and can persist in the environment."


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