Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Environmental groups urge LGUs to extinguish fires from open burning

Environmental groups have pressed local government units (LGUs) to seriously enforce the prohibition against open burning to conserve resources and curb toxic pollution.

EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) jointly push for the stringent implementation of the open burning ban under Republic Act No. 9003 and R.A. 8749 as the whole nation observes “Fire Prevention Month” this March.

"With public support, the LGUs can extinguish these often-ignored 'small' but similarly detrimental fires from the open burning of waste materials," the groups said.

Both R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, and R.A. 8749, the Clean Air Act, prohibit open burning of waste materials to address the decline of environmental quality, which directly impacts public health.

“Despite clear and explicit proscriptions under our foremost environmental laws, we still find open burning practised with impunity in both rural and urban areas,” said Roy Alvarez, president, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We see valuable resources, such as materials that can be re-used, recycled or composted, transformed into noxious fumes and ashes in disposal sites, farms, street corners, backyards and even in parks," he said.

On top of being wasteful, open burning produces a cocktail of health-damaging chemicals depending on what is burned.

The groups reiterated that R.A. 9003 and R.A. 8749 provide clear, adequate and strong basis for heightened LGU action against open burning.

R.A. 9003 bans the open burning of solid waste as in the case of traditional “siga” and penalizes violators with a fine ranging from P300 to P1,000, or a one- to 15-day imprisonment, or both.

R.A. 8749 states that “no person, establishment, firm, company, government or private entity or organizations shall be allowed to burn or cause open burning of waste materials in their premises, area of jurisdiction, including recognized or unrecognized dumpsites in any quality or quantity.”

The “waste materials” referred to under R.A. 8749 cover “plastic, polyvinyl chloride, polypropylene, paints, ink, wastes containing heavy metals, organic chemicals, petroleum related compound, industrial wastes, ozone depleting substances and other similar toxic and hazardous substances.”


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