Manila, Philippines. Environment experts today continued to expose the unacceptable toxic waste trade provisions under the Japan Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) as the Senate took a closer scrutiny at the treaty’s health and environmental repercussions.
The groups, which include Basel Action Network, EcoWaste Coalition, Greenpeace and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, working under the banner ‘Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition,’ revealed Japan’s on-going illegal toxic shipments throughout Asia, and reiterated how JPEPA weakens Philippine measures to prevent Japanese toxic waste from ending up in our shores by creating strong economic incentives for their trade.
In time with the Senate inquiry, over 200 protesters gathered outside the Senate gates to depict their outrage over Japan’s intent to send toxic wastes to the Philippines and to call on the Senate to reject the JPEPA. The protesters erected a mock pirate ship laden with wastes carried by the toxic tsunami wave coming from Japan. Above the mock pirate vessel a banner was unfurled exclaiming ‘Ahoy, Pinoys! JPEPA: Toxic to Health and Environment.’
“Japan has a record of shipping all sorts of hazardous waste to different countries in Asia. The toxic wastes Japan has been exporting are the same toxic wastes Japan insists on getting zero tariffs under JPEPA,” said Atty. Richard Gutierrez of the Basel Action Network, Asia-Pacific (BAN AP), one of the environmental groups invited before the Senate. “The export data from Asia proves our point that Japan’s promise not to export toxic wastes is empty, and that its real intent is to use the Japanese Economic Partnership Agreements to facilitate toxic waste colonization of the Philippines and Asia.”
Atty. Gutierrez cited data from Thailand, India, China, and Hong Kong showed large amounts of toxic and other wastes were moving out of Japan and exported to these places, legally and illegally. In India, for instance, Japan exported a total of 70 end-of-life vessels—containing many cancer-causing pollutants—for disposal from the years 2003 to 2006. In 2006, Japan dumped 195 million kilograms of toxic incinerator ash to Thailand, and illegally shipped 4,000 tons of Japanese contaminated municipal waste to China. China and Hong Kong customs officials were also recently able to intercept large quantities of Japanese toxic wastes, such as contaminated municipal wastes and electronic wastes or e-waste, even though they were misdeclared as mixed scrap or plastic wastes.
According to Greenpeace, the country’s current regulations against the entry of such toxic shipments are hopelessly inadequate. Toxic waste can still be shipped to our shores if they are declared recyclable, an excuse that hazardous waste traders fully exploit. Neither Japan nor the Philippines have ratified the Basel Ban Amendment, an international treaty which protects developing countries from toxic waste dumping by developed nations under the guise of recycling. Additionally, JPEPA supports radioactive waste trade which is not covered under the Basel Convention.
“Recycling hazardous waste produces equally hazardous waste residues, and Filipino workers and communities end up bearing the costs. JPEPA–which legalizes and eliminates tariffs on shipments of poisonous trash, and even dangerous radioactive waste–fully supports this atrocious practice to the detriment of the health and well-being of Filipinos. There is no sound economic reason, no plausible or credible explanation, why the entry of poisonous and radioactive waste into our shores should be something that our country should welcome,” said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Campaigns Director Von Hernandez.
Meanwhile, the EcoWaste Coalition raised the lack of capacity of the Philippines to deal with its own domestic waste. Citing the dismal failure of the National Solid Waste Management Commission to shut down the 677 open dumps and 343 controlled dumps that should all have been closed and rehabilitated as required by the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, the Philippines is in no shape to take in foreign wastes.
“Hope is not a strategy. Hoping that Japan will not dump toxic waste on us will not stop them from doing so,” said Marie Marciano of the EcoWaste Coalition, adding that “The Philippines needs to take concrete steps to protect itself–reject the JPEPA in its present form, and close the loopholes in its waste laws by enacting a total prohibition against toxic waste imports by immediately ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment.”
1. Additionally, a recent report prepared by BAN, EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives has raised the alert about the potential influx of CRT-based TV sets from Japan when TV systems in Japan are fully converted into HDTV digital systems in 2011. An estimated 64 million TVs with lead and other hazardous components are to become obsolete and likely to find their way to the Philippines and other countries under the guise of recyclable wastes or used goods should JPEPA be ratified.
2. The Basel Ban Amendment prohibits the export of all toxic wastes, for any reason whatsoever, either for disposal or recycling, from rich or developed countries like Japan, to poorer countries. The amendment was proposed back in 1995 in order to address the recycling loophole that has plagued the Basel Convention ever since its adoption in 1989. The Basel Ban Amendment has been ratified by almost all developed nations and is awaiting the requisite number of ratifications for it to enter into force of international law. The Philippines and Japan have not yet ratified the Amendment.
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