GOVERNMENT SUPPORT IN TREATMENT OF HAZARDOUS WASTE IN THE PHILIPPINES
PHILIPPINE CHEMICAL AND HAZARDOUS WASTE
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT PROGRAM (CHWEMP)
Juan Miguel Fuentes, Ninette Ramirez** and Enrique Linsangan*** *President, Environmental Practitioners Association
**Environmental Specialist, Environmental Practitioners Association ***Director for Operations, Bureau of Fire Protection – Department of Interior and Local Government
The Chemical and Hazardous Waste Emergency Management Program (CHWEMP) was initiated and developed by the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in response to the growing concern on and the urgent need to address the issues and problems related to the risks of chemicals and hazardous wastes to the environment.
Since its inception in 2002, the Program has been subject of technical and financial assistance from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) through the US-Asia Environmental Partnership Program (US-AEP).
There are more than 100,000 chemicals being used, manufactured, and imported in the Philippines. As of December 2004, DENR registered 3,801 hazardous wastes generators. Based on the submitted reports, the generators produce 226 million tonnes of hazardous wastes annually. The hazardous wastes are classified as plating wastes; acid wastes; alkali wastes; inorganic chemical wastes; reactive chemical wastes; paints, resins, lattices, inks, dyes, adhesives, and organic sludges; organic solvents; putrescibles and organic wastes; textile; oil; containers; immobilized wastes; organic chemicals; and miscellaneous wastes.
Significant amounts of chemicals are increasingly being used and considerable volumes of hazardous wastes are generated in the country with the fast development and rapid industrialization in the Philippines. To cope, address, and respond to emergencies and incidents related to the use, storage, handling, and disposal of chemicals and hazardous wastes, the Environmental Management Bureau, together with different government agencies and industrial associations and organizations, formalized a Technical Working Group to develop the Chemical and Hazardous Waste Emergency Management Program (CHWEMP).
The objective of the Philippine CHWEMP is to establish a national framework for concerted action by the industry, government, and community to address incidents involving chemicals or hazardous wastes. For the purposes of this Program, radioactive materials are excluded. Within the purview of the country’s disaster management system, the actions are classifiable as preparedness and response.
In line with the national development and implementation of the Chemical and Hazardous Waste Emergency Management Program, the Environmental Practitioners Association was selected by the USAID/US-AEP to assist the government agencies in establishing the Emergency Response Teams. The main approach is through government-private partnership and active participation of the industrial and manufacturing sectors that utilize these chemicals and generate these hazardous wastes, making use of existing industry associations and civic organizations as mediums of project implementation.
II. The Philippine Chemical and Hazardous Wastes Emergency Management Program
The objective of the Philippine Chemicals and Hazardous Wastes Emergency Management Program is to establish a national framework for concerted action by the industry, government, and community to address incidents involving chemicals or hazardous wastes. For the purposes of this Program, radioactive materials are excluded. Within the purview of the country’s disaster management system, the actions are classifiable as preparedness and response.
As a framework, the Program fleshes out the major elements of a chemicals and hazardous wastes emergency action plan such as: Organization and personnel responsibilities
Planning, hazards analysis, and plan updating
Drills and exercises
Facilities, supplies, and equipment
Detection, alarm, and notification procedures
Containment and cleanup
Documentation and investigative follow-up
While it establishes the critical and major plan elements, the Program assigns to local planning committees the adaptation of the elements to suit actual local conditions. Hence, the Program is a guide for the formulation of local emergency management plans. The local plan will depend on the hazards existing in the area, i.e., types of chemicals and hazardous wastes, local geography and climate, time variables, particular characteristics of chemical and wastes facilities and transportation routes, and the capabilities of local industry, government, and community.
The legal authority for the Program emanates from the following statutes:
1.) Republic Act No. (RA) 6969, also known as the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990 – This empowers the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), among others, to regulate, restrict, or prohibit the importation, manufacture, processing, sale, distribution, use, and disposal of such materials. The DENR is also authorized to call on any department, bureau, office, agency, state university or college, and other instrumentalities of the Government for assistance in the discharge of functions.
2.) Presidential Decree No. (PD) 1185, the Fire Code of the Philippines – The decree assigns the enforcement of the Fire Code to the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP). Under the Code, the owners, administrators or occupants of buildings, s...