Safer Non-Combustion Technologies for Managing PCBs Presented

Mandaluyong City. Environmentally-sound state of the art technologies can be tapped to safely handle the country’s stockpiles of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) generated mostly by the power industry.

This was the good news from a well-attended seminar held today in Mandaluyong City that featured various technology options for destroying PCB wastes using a non-combustion approach.

Organized mainly by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the seminar brought together technology vendors, scientific and technical experts as well as representatives from the government, the power industry and the civil society.

DENR Assistant Secretary Analiza Teh and UNIDO representative Zhengyou Peng lauded the commitment and support of the various stakeholders to ensure the successful deployment and operation of a non-combustion technology that will help the Philippines comply with its obligations under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and the DENR-issued Chemical Control Order (CCO) for PCBs.

The Stockholm Convention, ratified by the Senate in 2004, bans the production of PCBs and gives countries until 2025 to phase out the use of equipment such as electricity transformers that contain PCBs. The CCO for PCBs issued in 2004 sets a much earlier phase out target by 2014.

At the seminar, technology vendors Bochemie E.S. (Czech Republic), EnvioRecycling (Germany) and Kinetrics (Canada) provided the participants with detailed information about their products that was followed by an extensive discussion on how they fit with the stringent technology

Dr. Martin Murin, UNIDO consultant and coordinator for the non-combustion program, pointed out that the required non-combustion technology for PCBs must, at a minimum, comply with two specific characteristics:

1. The technology must operate in a closed loop system to prevent uncontrolled releases of POPs and other substances of concern, including gas, solid and liquid residues, and avoid periodic upsets that plague incinerators and other open destruction systems.

2. The technology must be capable of achieving total destruction efficiencies (DEs) for POPs and other substances of concern that approach 100% in line with the Stockholm Convention’s goal of reducing “total releases” to all media and “their continuing minimization and where feasible ultimate elimination.”

DENR Environmental Management Bureau Director Julian Amador discussed the regulations and current practices on handling PCBs in the country. Initial inventory shows that the Philippines has 6,879 tonnes of PCB-containing equipment and wastes comprising about 2,400 tonnes of PCBs oil that require environmentally-sound management and disposal.

Funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the non-combustion project for destroying PCBs has the UNIDO as the implementing agency, DENR as the national executing agency and PNOC Alternative Fuels Corp. as the operating entity.

The private sector partners for the project include MERALCO, National Power Corp. and the National Transmission Corp, among other players in the power industry, while the public sector partners are represented by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace Southeast Asia and the Environmental Health Fund.

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