Palatino asks Glenn Defense: Don’t you know that you’re toxic?

IT’S not just an issue of maintaining foreign relations; it’s basically an issue of safeguarding our shores from becoming the toxic trash bin of foreign countries like the US.”

Thus said Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino, who filed House Resolution No. 2881 today along with Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño.

HR 2881 directs the House Committees on Natural Resources and Ecology to conduct a joint onsite investigation on the “environmental and socio-economic impacts of the alleged illegal dumping of toxic wastes of US Navy sub-contractor Glenn Marine Defense Asia in Subic Bay.”

The resolution followed the investigation being conducted by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) on reports that Malaysian-based US Navy sub-contractor Glenn Marine Defense Asia is allegedly hauling and dumping liquid toxic waste that are “beyond permissible limits” in Subic Bay.

In the morning of October 15, 2012, the tanker MT Glenn Guardian, a vessel owned by Glenn Marine Defense Asia, was spotted collecting waste from a US Navy ship at Alava Pier. The SBMA Ecology Center conducted a spot inspection on MT Glenn Guardian at around 1 PM, when it was already docked at the NSD area of the Freeport.
In the said spot inspection, MT Glenn Guardian Captain Edilberto Acedilla revealed that the tanker was carrying around 50,000 gallons of domestic waste and around 200 gallons of bilge water – a toxic combination of water, oil and grease – all of which were hauled from the US Navy ship.

On October 16, 2012, a day after the spot inspection of the SBMA Ecology Center on MT Glenn Guardian, a team from the Philippine Coast Guard Marine Pollution Division (MARPOL) and the SBMA Ecology Center boarded MT Glenn Guardian and MT Glenn Enterprise, another vessel operated by Glenn Marine Defense Asia, for inspection.

In the course of the inspection, it was revealed that both vessels have expired registrations and permits. The two vessels also never applied for any MARPOL permits to dump toxic wastes in the open sea. MARPOL dumping permits are needed to ensure that liquid wastes being dumped in the open sea have been properly treated and are no longer harmful to marine life.
The results of the SBMA Ecology department testing on the water samples taken from the two vessels showed alarming levels of toxicity, grease and oil.

“As it appears, Glenn Marine Defense Asia may have violated several pertinent laws of the Philippines, including Republic Act No. 6969 or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990 and Republic Act No. 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004,” Palatino said.

RA 6969 prohibits the “storage, importation, or bringing into Philippine territory, including its maritime economic zones, even in transit, either by means of land, air or sea transportation or otherwise keeping in storage any amount of hazardous and nuclear wastes in any part of the Philippines,” while RA 9275 sets specific standards and sanctions over all aspects of water pollution.

“What is alarming is that Glenn Marine Defense Asia even invoked the Visiting Forces Agreement to halt the investigation of the SBMA on the dumping of toxic wastes. Like a bully hiding behind a bigger bully, Glenn Defense wants to exploit the loopholes of the VFA to escape liability,” the youth solon said.

“Spoiling Subic Bay with the toxic waste of US Navy ships can hinder economic growth in the said area, cause irreparable damages to Subic Bay’s marine ecosystem, and in the end analysis, an attack against the country’s sovereignty,” Palatino added.

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