125 Intense Chemical Odor Releases Detected from Cavite Hazardous Facility

August 28,
2014, Silang, Cavite. In the span of six weeks, residents of Barangay Maguyam,
a populated but highly industrialized barangay in Silang, Cavite, detected 129
intense chemical odor releases from different facilities, 125 of which came
from a controversial hazardous waste treatment facility.
“We are
constantly suffering from foul smells coming from the hazardous waste treatment
facility of Cleanway Environmental Management Solution Inc. (CEMSI). We can
smell chemical odors day and night and these smells are always so strong that
they trigger headaches, nausea, eye irritation, stomach aches and induce vomiting
especially in our children,” said Erlinda Olivo, a volunteer community
environmental monitor.
inside the Meridian Industrial Complex, the Cleanway facility is one of the
biggest hazardous waste treatment facilities in the country. The company treats
various hazardous waste ranging from acid and alkaline waste to pesticides,
infectious and special waste containing heavy metals.
From the 16th
of May to 26th of June 2014, Olivo and other volunteer monitors
recorded all the odors that they encounter in their day-to-day activities and described
these and the immediate health impacts that they felt upon encountering the odors.
Aside from 126 chemical odor incidents, the volunteers also recorded 21
different chemical odors coming from the facility of CEMSI such as the smell of
rotten egg, paint, mixed waste, human feces and others.
smelling these odors, the volunteers felt splitting headache, nausea, dryness
of throat, throat itchiness, difficulty in breathing, eye irritation and
stomach ache.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued a Notice of
Violation (NOV) against CEMSI in September 2013 for the company’s failure to
address chemical odor leaks, poor handling and storage of hazardous waste,
absence of wastewater treatment and dumping of untreated hazardous wastes in
their landfill.
“It is
evident that Cleanway continues to violate our environmental laws. Yet, DENR
continues to do nothing and treats these foul odors coming from the plant as a
mere nuisance rather than attribute these smells to possible chemical
pollution. The people have the right to know what the industries around them
are releasing to the environment. Full public pollution disclosure will avert
ecological degradation and minimize, if not prevent, future chemical leaks and
disasters from happening,” said Eloisa Tolentino, Coordinator of Cavite Green
Coalition (CGC).
already received various complaints in the past years due to chemical leaks
from its plant and its poor environmental compliance. In October 2009, more
than 100 residents were hospitalized for various complaints such as dizziness,
vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty of breathing and asthma attacks due to extremely
strong chemical smells coming from Cleanway.
Lack of
systematic ambient air monitoring and the non-disclosure of industries’
emissions data have prevented Maguyam residents to determine the quality of the
air that they breathe and identify the presence of chemicals that could have
short or long term effects on their health.
To generate
their own data, Olivo and other barangay residents underwent training on community
environmental monitoring which was facilitated by CGC and the Philippine
Pollution Monitor in partnership with EcoWaste Coalition.
The Maguyam
environmental monitors continue to systematically record chemical odor
incidents coming from CEMSI and other industries in Maguyam.