Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Garbage from Canada to the Philippines

"Trash is a clandestine tool of warfare."
Dr Abe V Rotor 
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio 
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class Monday to Friday

Lesson for the Week 

Guide Questions:
1. Trash is the breeding place of vermin, from bacteria to insects to rodents. Name at least 10 kinds under each and list down their harmful effects.

2. Not all trash end up into stable and safe materials. Classify the components of trash according to degradability, and those that do persist in their original make and condition. 
3. Name at least five toxic metals found in trash, other than the notorious lead (Pb) and Mercury (Hg) that have been found to cause serious illnesses. How do these toxic metals find their way to the food chain and food web? How about toxic metalloids or  non-metals like arsenic and antimony? How do they get into the trash and recycled in our homes?  

4. Categorize radiation in trash (a) hospitals (b) industry (c) nuclear plant (d) nuclear armaments manufacture and tests. How does radiation affect organisms? Ecosystems? How is ionizing radiation harmful to everyday life health and environment? 

5. Are dumpsites potential farms? Woodlands? Parks?  Cite models we can adopt for our dumpsites in Payatas, Smoky Mountain, and elsewhere in the country. 

6. How are gases arising from landfills minimized to safeguard health, especially among infants and children, pregnant mothers notwithstanding? Why does it take years - if not generations - for a landfill to be really safe as a settlement?

7. "Exporting" trash is a recent means of mass dissemination of organisms, principally harmful ones that thrive in decomposing matter and filthy conditions, thus undermining quarantine, lab test, and management and legal control. How do you explain the proliferation of pests and diseases in the new terrirory in which they are introduced?

Can Nature readily provide a check-and-balance mechanism to control these vagabond organisms from becoming pests, and from causing epidemics?

Among the conditions that favor mutation of organisms are found in unsanitary and confined environments.  Explain the phenomenon in the light of Darwinian evolution that gives rise to superior offspring, as well as the possibilities of speciation.  

8. Dioxin is the most poisonous substance ever produced by man.  It is emitted in burning plastics. Research on the extreme danger of dioxin introduced in water reservoirs, ground water and spring, rivers and lakes, and its movement into the food chain and ecosystem. 
Two editorial cartoons of Philippine Daily Inquirer denouncing Canada
9. Cite historical records wherein wastes were used to inflict damage to life and property to enemies in war and peacetime. Example: Bubonic plague victims were catapulted over walls of cities and forts of enemies, carcasses of livestock killed by inderpest and other contaigious diseases. .  

10. Comment of this research findings, and relate then to topic on trash   
 Various types of biological warfare (BW) have been practiced repeatedly throughout history. This has included the use of biological agents (microbes and plants) as well as the biotoxins, including venoms, derived from them.
Before the 20th century, the use of biological agents took three major forms:

  • Deliberate contamination of food and water with poisonous or contagious material
  • Use of microbes, biological toxins, animals, or plants (living or dead) in a weapon system
  • Use of biologically inoculated fabrics and persons
In the 20th century, sophisticated bacteriological and virological techniques allowed the production of significant stockpiles of weaponized bio-agents:

  • Bacterial agents: Anthrax, Brucella, Tularemia, etc.
  • Viral agents: Smallpox, Viral hemorrhagic fevers, etc.
  • Toxins: Botulinum, Ricin, etc.  
Source: Internet

 Controversial Canadian garbage heads to Philippine landfill
Hauling of the 1,375 tons of waste is set to finish soon, according to the Philippines' Bureau of Customs and the landfill operator
BURDEN. The Philippine government continues to shoulder the costs of keeping 50 container vans of garbage from Canada in its ports. Photo from Change.org

The Philippine government continues to shoulder the costs of keeping 50 container vans of garbage from Canada in its ports. Photo from Change.org

MANILA, Philippines – Tons of imported Canadian rubbish has been sent to a northern Philippines landfill, ending a two-year standoff with activists who called for the waste to be returned to Canada, officials said Tuesday, July 14.

The 55 containers full of household rubbish were seized at Manila's port in mid-2013 on grounds that the waste was being passed off as plastic scrap material for recycling.

The country's Customs Bureau initially labelled the rubbish "contraband", but the Canadian embassy said the Philippine government later agreed to "dispose of the shipment in an environmentally sound manner in accordance with its laws and regulations." (READ: Canada wants its illegal garbage 'processed' in PH)

"The government of Canada worked closely with the government of the Philippines with regard to the shipment," the Canadian embassy in Manila said in a statement.

Trucks began hauling the estimated 1,375 tons of waste to a landfill about a 3-hour drive north of Manila in late June. Disposal teams are set to finish transporting the rest of the waste soon, the Customs Bureau and landfill operator said.

Activists remain angry that the garbage is being sent to a landfill in the Philippines, instead of being returned to Canada.

"It's sad that local communities will be the ones to suffer from this foreign waste dumping in our land," Angelica Carballo, communications manager for the Manila-based environmental watchdog group Ban Toxics, told AFP.

"It's sad that our government appears to be conniving with Canada."

While local officials claim the Philippine government has certified that the material was not toxic or hazardous, Carballo insists that the rubbish contains "electronic waste" that the landfill is not allowed to process.

The fiasco has become a major rallying point

for local environmentalists, who have held protests at the Canadian embassy demanding that Ottawa take the rubbish back. – 

Canada wants its illegal garbage 'processed' in PH

Fifty container vans of garbage from Canada have been sitting on Manila's ports – costing PH millions in storage fees and posing health risks to citizens – yet Ottawa says it can't demand its citizen to recall them
Pia Ranada
Published 2:35 PM, October 13, 2014
Updated 10:11 PM, October 24, 2014

The Philippine government continues to shoulder the costs of keeping 50 container vans of garbage from Canada in its ports.
MANILA, Philippines – Because the Canadian government can't return the garbage that was illegally shipped out of its country, it is requesting the Philippines to process it here instead.

Canadian Ambassador Neil Reeder told the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) during an April 24 meeting that his government "would like to explore with the Philippines options for processing the rest of the shipment – in accordance with Philippine law – in the Philippines."

The diplomat is referring to 50 container vans from Canada that have been arriving in batches at the Manila Port since June 2013. Philippine government officials have opened 18 container vans, revealing their contents of mixed garbage, including non-recyclable plastics, waste paper, household waste, and used adult diapers.

The discovery led the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to file a case against Philippine-based importer Chronic Plastics for smuggling in the garbage, which were misdeclared as "plastic scraps" intended for recycling.

Ambassador Reeder made the suggestion during a meeting with DFA officials, based on an August 12 record of the case or "aide memoire" obtained by Rappler.

DENR Secretary Ramon Paje confirmed to Rappler on October 9 that the treatment of the illegal waste in the Philippines was one of the options being explored by an interagency committee formed specifically to deal with the matter.

The interagency committee is composed of the DENR, DFA, and the BOC.

If the option is pursued, all treatment costs should be shouldered by the Canadian government, he added.

The container vans have been in the Philippines for more than 460 days and have cost the Philippine government around P66 million (US$1.5 million) in storage costs, estimates health advocacy group Ang Nars.

The garbage was exported to the Philippines by Chronic Incorporated, a company based in Ontario, Canada.

'No authority'

Since March, the DFA has sent letters to the Canadian embassy, requesting for assistance in immediately returning the illegal garbage back to Canada.

Based on the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes, which both the Philippines and Canada have ratified, the country from which the waste originated is responsible for returning the waste to its port of origin "within 30 days from the time the State of export has been informed about the illegal traffic."

The convention also states that the obligation for such waste to be managed in an environmentally sound manner "may not under any circumstances be transferred to the States of import or transit."

But in June 9, three months after the DFA letter, Reeder told the DFA that the Canadian government "has no domestic or international authority to compel the shipper to return the shipment to Canada."

He also said the owner of exporter Chronic Incorporated, Jim Makris, "has not been successful to date in finding a third country to which the shipment could be sent."

Reeder explained that while Canadian law imposes penalties on violations of import and export laws, it does not provide a mechanism to compel the return of illegal shipments to the port of origin.

The BOC questions the position of the Canadian Embassy, saying that World Trade Organization commitments hold the Canadian government responsible for ensuring its shipments to other countries are safe and comply with international agreements.

The interagency committee is yet to decide whether or not to take Reeder's suggestion.

'Troubling precedent'

But Paje emphasized that while the idea is being considered, his department sees re-export as the only option.

If the waste is treated in the Philippines, the case may set a "troubling precedent" marking the Philippines as a "dumping ground" for foreign garbage, according to the DENR's position as recorded in the aide memoire.

Aside from violating international agreements, both the Philippine-based importer and Canada-based exported violated local laws, specifically Republic Act 6969, said DENR Environment Management Bureau Director Juan Cuna (Toxic Substance and Hazardous Wastes and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990).

Meanwhile, the 50 container vans continue to be a burden to the Philippine government.

The Department of Health (DOH) recommends the disinfection of the container vans because of the health risks they pose to port workers and communities in the port area.

The interagency committee pegs the cost of transferring them to a treatment site at P400,000 ($8,900) or P8,000 ($179) per container van. The disinfection process will cost P900,000 ($20,100) or P18,000 ($402) per container van.

Though the container vans are in the legal custody of the BOC, the agency says it does not have the money to pay for these costs.

Pressure the exporter

Despite violations of the Basel Convention, the interagency committee has chosen to approach the case as a "commercial transaction between a Philippine importer and a Canadian exporter," said DFA spokesperson Charles Jose.

Dealing with the case as a violation of the Basel Convention, which would require coordination with the convention's secretariat, would be the last resort, decided the committee.

The DENR said that with enough pressure, the illegally shipped garbage could be dealt with properly without resorting to the Basel Convention.

For instance, in 2001, the Japanese government bore the cost of the removal of container vans full of domestic and hospital waste due to heavy pressure from the media and letters from DFA and the DENR. The Japanese government also filed charges against the Japanese exporter.

Reeder made a similar suggestion for the Philippine and Canadian governments to "pressure" Chronic Incorporated to remove the containers by threatening to ban the company from doing business with the Philippines and other countries.

Meanwhile, health and environmental advocates continue to call on the Philippine government to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, a proposed provision to the convention that completely prohibits developed countries from transporting garbage to poorer countries.

Currently, the convention allows the transport of waste so long as the developing country gives its written consent.

More than 23,800 people have signed an online petition demanding the Canadian embassy Manila to re-export the container vans of garbage back to Canada.

Two lawmakers, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago and Representative Leah Paquiz, have filed for inquires in aid of legislation to probe into the garbage from Canada. – Rappler.com

The Making of a Plastic Continent 
The main Plastic Vortex as big as the state of texas - and growing - lies north of Hawaii off the coast of Canada and the US. "Islands" of plastics coalese into the vortex. Dutch scientists propose to convert the floating debris into a livable environment.  Satellite photo below shows ocean currents and gyres responsible in creating the vortex.   Canada is directly affected as indicated in the North Pacific Gyre. 
 Another gyre in the North Atlantic is poised to form another Plastic Vortex along the east coast of the US and Canada. If this happens we might expect a graver consequence as plastic merges with seaweeds that comprise the huge Sargasso Sea. (See lowermost photos, from the Internet) 

NOTE: There are two other gyre in the south hemisphere potential spawning ground of floating debris.

Relate these events with the following: 
1. Pope Francis Laudato Si (Praise Be), a call to save the Earth
2. Canada exporting trash to the Philippines
3. Earth Summits - review and prospects
4. Culture of Consumerism
5. Waste management models 
6. Personal concern and action
7. Global Leadership challenge
8. Autotoxicity - myth of fact?

 Pope Francis' encyclical, Laudato Si, appeals to everyone to exercise responsibility and accountability in presrving the environment. 

No comments: