Environmentalists Vow to Monitor Illegal Recycling and Disposal of PCBs

In a bid to ensure safe management of obsolete electric transformers’ oils known as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), more than 50 civil society groups today launch a national campaign to ensure that none of the toxic materials will be disposed of illegally and jeopardize public health and safety.

Hailed as “Bantay PCBs,” the campaign aims to raise public awareness on PCBs, monitor any illegal handling of PCBs for reuse, recycling or disposal, and promote the environmentally-sound management of PCBs.

“PCBs are toxic to humans and wildlife. This will explain the resolute efforts, locally and globally, to prevent their damaging dispersal into the environment,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition

“Through ‘Bantay PCBs,’ we intend to nip in the bud the threat of PCB-containing oil, equipment and waste being handled recklessly to the detriment of public health and the environment,” he added.

Information from the UN-backed PCBs Elimination Network (PEN), of which the EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives are members, says that PCBs are a class of synthetic organic chemicals used for a variety of industrial uses, mainly as dielectric fluids in capacitors and transformers.

Adverse effects associated to the exposure to PCBs, according to PEN, include damage to the immune system, liver, skin, reproductive system, gastrointestinal tract and thyroid gland.

The unauthorized handling of PCBs, which can put the workers’ health at risk, is explicity banned under the Chemical Control Order for PCBs issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

To support entities in complying with the required elimination of their PCB stockpiles in a safe manner, the DENR in partnership with the private and public sectors is implementing a Non-Combustion POPs Project for PCBs (or the Non-Com POPs Project).

The project will see the operation of a non-incineration plant, in keeping with the incineration ban under the Clean Air Act, for destroying domestic stocks of PCBs, which are commonly found in power plants and industrial facilities.

The Non-Com POPs Project is managed by the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau with support from the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. The facility, which is currently undergoing construction in Mariveles, Bataan, will be operated by the PNOC Alternative Fuels Corp.

Also participating in the Non-Com POPs Project are environmental health and justice groups such as the EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Ban Toxics, Health Care Without Harm, and Mother Earth Foundation.