Thursday, October 13, 2011

Philippine environmental groups oppose incinerators

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 13, 2011) – Various Filipino environmental groups have expressed concern over the increase in waste incineration proposals and contracts signed in different areas in Mindanao.

“We are saddened by the news shared by different stakeholders from Mindanao that local government units are signing or are about to sign multi-year contracts with different incinerator companies that will allow dirty facilities to be built within their respective areas.”

“Once these waste burners operate, they will bring immense environmental and health problems to many marginalized communities and threaten even more the island’s already critical environment,” Rei Panaligan of the EcoWaste Coalition, told the Mindanao Examiner.

Panaligan said the German company Herhof GmbH has already secured long-term deals with the local governments of Molave in Zamboanga del Sur province; Glan in Sarangani; Panabo City in Davao del Norte; and Midsayap in North Cotabato.

Herhof’s proposal is also pending and being discussed by the local governments of Davao City and Cagayan de Oro City.

Panaligan said Herhof and its recently formed local counterpart TIG Green Mindanao plan to put up “stabilat” plants in different areas in Mindanao to “pelletize” mixed municipal and hazardous wastes to be burned in their facilities or sold as co-fuel for cement kilns. In the small, quiet town of Glan, the company is demanding at least 1,000 tons of garbage per day.

“We hope the local government units will not be misled by the grand promises and sham statistics of waste burning companies hiding behind high-tech sounding names like pyrolysis, gasification, plasma arc or stabilat,” said Paeng Lopez, the national campaigner for Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.

“Herhof promotes the collection and burning of mixed waste which run against our aim to reduce the volume of our solid waste and protect our environment as stated under our Clean Air Act and Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.”

“To say yes to the wanton burning of discarded papers, bottles, metals, plastics, and other useful discards is to say yes to the continued destruction of our remaining ecosystems, because incineration sustains the need for further extraction of raw materials to manufacture new products. Think of incinerators as parasites – they suck out the life of our environment by burning its resources,” he said.

Merci Ferrer, executive director of the Health Care Without Harm, said environmentally-sound waste management alternatives like discards segregation, re-use, recycling and composting are easier to do and are much cheaper. Even hospital wastes, after disinfecting them through the use of autoclaves or microwaves, can be treated as regular household wastes and be recycled, Ferrer said.

“On the other hand, waste incineration produces carcinogenic dioxins – the most toxic man-made compound – and neuro-toxic heavy metals like mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, among others. These are poisons that will inevitable contaminate our communities if we say yes to waste burning,” Ferrer said.

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