Communities Protest Waste Incinerator’s Test Run

8 February 2007, Cavite. Some one hundred people today protested the ongoing emission test run of the waste treatment facility operated by the Integrated Waste Management Inc. (IWMI) in Trece Martirez, Cavite.

Community members, nuns, students and advocates for environmental health from the Cavite Green Coalition and the EcoWaste Coalition joined the prayer rally versus waste incineration, which is banned under the Clean Air Act of 1999 and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. Father Hector Arellano officiated the Mass dedicated to the protection of the people’s right to a healthy environment.

Eight women donning pregnant belly costumes stood still in front of the facility to call attention to the proven hazards of incineration, notably to women and children, and the need to assert the primacy of community health over corporate profit. One placard says it all: “Kinabukasan ng mga bata at mga nanay namin, una sa lahat!”

“We are convinced that the IWMI is not sincere in conducting a conclusive test of emissions and in making sure that the test results generated are reliable, independently verifiable and properly documented,” said Ochie Tolentino, coordinator of the Cavite Green Coalition.

“The IWMI has a previous history of testing emissions and never bothering to report,” added Tolentino.

Merci Ferrer, coordinator of Health Care Without Harm, corroborated Tolentino’s observation. She said: “The hasty convening of the multipartite monitoring team (MMT), without adequate technical preparation, lays the groundwork for the greenwashing of the IWMI incinerator. No effort has been made to make sure that the MMT is technically proficient to monitor the tests being made.”

According to Ferrer, without the technical preparation to monitor the test, the MMT is effectively a rubber stamp for the IWMI.

In 2005, the IWMI was issued a cease-and-desist order by the Environmental Management Bureau of Region IV-A for failure to submit the results of two previous emission tests, for which the IWMI pleaded error in the sampling of the pollutants tested. The present test run, under a temporary permit-to-operate, began on February 6.

Manny Calonzo, co-coordinator of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) said that the operation of IWMI’s incinerator poses risk to public health and the environment as incinerators are scientifically known to emit hundreds of toxic byproducts, including dioxins, heavy metals, and particulates. Dioxins, the most notorious manmade chemical poison, can cause or worsen a wide range of extremely serious health problems such as cancers and disorders in the immune, reproductive and developmental systems.

In an independent test commissioned by the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) in 2005, the eggs of free-range chicken living near the IWMI incinerator were found to have levels of dioxin that exceeded more than three times the limit set by the European Union (EU). The level of PCBs found in the eggs also exceeded the proposed EU limit.

Representatives of St. Jude Parish, Basel Action Network, Buklod Tao Foundation, Cavite Green Coalition, Children’s Helper Project, World Vision, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Health Care Without Harm, Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives and the Mother Earth Foundation came to extend support to the “stop waste incineration” event.

For more information, please contact us at (02) 929-0376 or ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com