Sunday, May 1, 2011

Green groups: Dispose of endosulfan now

As the international community imposes a global ban on the endosulfan, a "highly hazardous pesticide" used on food and non-food crops, green groups appealed to the Aquino administration to speed up the safe disposal of at least 10 metric tons of the substance that had been retrieved from a passenger ferry that sank off Sibuyan Island almost three years ago.

The fifth Conference of Parties (COP5) of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), which ended last Friday, agreed to include endosulfan in Annex A of the treaty for global elimination, subject to specific exemptions.

“We applaud the decision of COP5 to finally ban endosulfan as a huge triumph for health and justice, and we honor the governments and citizens behind this historic verdict, especially the pollution victims, the Pesticide Action Network and the International POPs Elimination Network," said Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition and Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA).

After reaching a decision on endosulfan, Calonzo said the Philippine government should now focus on the safe disposal of the cargo of endosulfan that had been salvaged from the MV Princess of the Stars in 2008.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources' (DENR) Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) had told the EcoWaste that the pesticide is stored at the Vertical Fertilizer Chemical Corp. warehouse in Camalig Road, Meycauayan.

EcoWaste and GAIA appealed to the Aquino administration to immediately form an action team that will ensure the environmentally-sound disposal of the banned pesticide.

"Now that the cat is out of the bag, we ask President Aquino to urgently deal with our own stockpile of the exceedingly toxic agrochemical,” Calonzo said.

“We have repeatedly reminded both the Arroyo and the Aquino administrations about the looming global action to ban endosulfan under the POPs treaty and the need for swift action to ship back the pesticide to its manufacturer,” he pointed out.

Calonzo noted that from day one, they have pushed for the return of the cargo of endosulfan to its consignee, Del Monte Phils., knowing the country’s lack of appropriate facility where pesticide can be disposed of.

Quoting a letter to EcoWaste and GAIA's Bantay Endosulfan, dated September 11, 2008 by then Transportation and Communications Undersecretary Maria Elena Bautista-Horn, Calonzo said that “Del Monte Phils., as consignee and supposed owner of the cargo intends to ship back said chemical to its manufacturer in Israel.”

“However, inasmuch as there is an ongoing court case between the Sulpicio Lines and Del Monte Phils. concerning the shipment, the chemical shall be put to the custody of the Regional Trial Court as evidence while it is being litigated,” wrote Bautista, then concurrent head of the government-formed Task Force Princess of the Stars.

Another letter by Bautista to the group dated November 20, 2008 said “that the endosulfan is now under the custody of the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (which) has been ordered to return the endosulfan to its owner Makhteshim Chemicals Ltd.”


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