EcoWaste Coalition Pushes Chemical Accident Prevention as Part of Earthquake Preparedness

An environmental network for chemical
safety and zero waste has expressed its support for enhanced collaboration
among the various stakeholders to minimize the adverse impacts of strong earth
movements and other natural exigencies.
The EcoWaste Coalition joined the growing call for earthquake preparedness as
two government agencies, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the
Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOCS), urged the public
to be ready for any future emergencies. 
The MMDA last Sunday advised Metro Manila’s residents to check on the
structural safety of homes and buildings following the devastating quake
in Nepal that killed over 8,500 people with dozens still missing.
While PHILVOCS yesterday warned the public anew of a massive quake if the
Valley Fault System moves.  The system is comprised of the
10-kilometer East Valley Fault in Rizal, and the 100-kilometer West Valley
Fault, which passes through six Metro Manila cities and parts of the Bulacan,
Cavite, Laguna and Rizal provinces.

“Given that many
of our communities are at risk for earthquakes, we cannot overstate the value
of multi-stakeholder coordination and preparation to be done now before the big
one strikes,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project

“As earthquakes can trigger chemical spills, explosions and fires, as well as
toxic releases and exposures, it’s important for all facilities, public and
private, to double check their preparedness in preventing and reducing
chemical-related incidents during natural disasters,” he said.
“For instance, toxic materials should be properly labeled, used, stored,
treated and disposed of in an environmentally-sound manner to avoid chemical
accidents in normal and abnormal times that can poison humans and other living
things,” he said.

Dizon specifically cited the need for institutions with high child and youth
occupancy to review their current procurement and storage practices for
hazardous substances, including cleaning agents and laboratory chemicals.

He also cited the need to revive the process initiated by the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources “to strengthen the capability of government,
industry and community to eliminate or reduce injuries and deaths caused by
major chemical accidents.”
“This process would have established a formal Task Force on Chemical Accident
Prevention and Preparedness (CAPP) that is tasked to develop, implement and
monitor the country’s road map on CAPP,” he said.
“The likelihood of a hugely destructive earthquake happening during our
lifetime and the occurrence of extreme weather events like super typhoons makes
CAPP all the more essential for our country and people,” he emphasized. 
A strong CAPP program is vital for a disaster-prone country like Philippines,
which “sits in a typhoon belt in the Pacific ring of fire where earthquakes,
volcanic eruptions and tropical cyclones frequently occur, which can trigger or
aggravate chemical accidents,” the EcoWaste Coalition said, citing a government
draft policy on CAPP.