MED­I­CAL WASTE FIRM OP­ER­A­TIONS HALTED

Cenro wants the Davao City En­vi­ron­men­tal Care Inc. (DCECI) to be charged with vi­o­lat­ing var­i­ous en­vi­ron­men­tal laws

Sun.Star Cebu - - FRONT PAGE -

They told us they re­fused to ac­cept the no­tice be­cause clean­ing the waste would mean they ad­mit­ted guilt. MAN­DAUE CENRO HEAD ARACELI BARLAM,

on DCECI’s re­fusal to ac­cept the no­tice of vi­o­la­tion or­der­ing it to re­move the hospi­tal wastes along the Bu­tu­anon River

Cenro noted sev­eral vi­o­la­tions when it in­spected the firm’s fa­cil­ity in Barangay Uma­pad on Fri­day, Jan. 11

Med­clean Man­age­ment So­lu­tions Inc. now the only ac­cred­ited firm to treat haz­ardous, in­fec­tious wastes in Cebu

The Man­daue City Gov­ern­ment has is­sued a cease-and-de­sist or­der (CDO) against the Davao City En­vi­ron­men­tal Care Inc. (DCECI) for var­i­ous vi­o­la­tions, in­clud­ing the dis­posal of med­i­cal and haz­ardous wastes out­side its fa­cil­ity.

Aside from the CDO, city of­fi­cials also want the pri­vate waste treat­ment firm charged with vi­o­lat­ing Repub­lic Act (RA) 6969, or the Toxic Sub­stances and Haz­ardous and Nu­clear Waste Con­trol Act of 1990, and RA 9003, or the Eco­log­i­cal Solid Waste Man­age­ment Act of 2000, among oth­ers.

Araceli Barlam, head of the City En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Of­fice (Cenro), said they will sub­mit their rec­om­men­da­tions to sue DCECI to the City Le­gal Of­fice this week.

Last Fri­day, Jan. 11, Cenro per­son­nel in­spected DCECI’s fa­cil­ity in Barangay Uma­pad.

They found sev­eral in­frac­tions, in­clud­ing vi­o­la­tion of City Or­di­nance 14-2017-1221, which pro­hibits the “spilling of waste, refuse or garbage, whether solid or liq­uid hu­man and exc­reta, and of­fen­sive and ob­nox­ious mat­ters in any va­cant lot, yards, roads, streets side­walks, road­side canals, rivers, creeks, un­der­ground drainage sys­tem and other places.”

Look­ing for an al­ter­na­tive They also found out that DCECI did not have an en­vi­ron­men­tal trans­port per­mit from the Of­fice of the Mayor for ev­ery solid, liq­uid and haz­ardous or in­fec­tious wastes it trans­ported within the city.

Barlam said the firm vi­o­lated RA 9003 be­cause it trans­ported and dumped its wastes in ar­eas other than the cen­ters or fa­cil­i­ties pre­scribed by the law.

On Satur­day, Jan. 12, Cenro is- sued an­other no­tice of vi­o­la­tion to DCECI and or­dered the firm to re­move the hospi­tal wastes placed in­side yel­low bags that were dumped along the Bu­tu­anon River.

But Barlam said the firm re­fused to ac­cept the no­tice. Her of­fice sent a sec­ond no­tice to the firm on Mon­day, Jan. 14, or­der­ing it to re­move the wastes it dumped along the river.

“When we gave the ad­di­tional no­tice of vi­o­la­tion last Satur­day, they (DCECI) re­fused to re­ceive our no­tice. So we posted it on the fence of their es­tab­lish­ment. They told us they re­fused to ac­cept the no­tice be­cause clean­ing the waste would mean they ad­mit­ted guilt,” Barlam said.

But even with DCECI’s re­fusal, Barlam was bent on fil­ing charges against the firm.

With the CDO in ef­fect, DCECI’s op­er­a­tions were sus­pended, Barlam said.

She en­cour­aged hos­pi­tals that had ex­ist­ing con­tracts with DCECI to look for other firms to han­dle their wastes.

Health check

In a sep­a­rate in­ter­view, En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Bureau (EMB) 7 Di­rec­tor Wil­liam Cuñado said Med­clean Man­age­ment So­lu­tions Inc. was the only firm left in Cebu that was ac­cred­ited by the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources (DENR) to treat haz­ardous and in­fec­tious wastes.

The DENR had also ac­cred­ited the Pol­lu­tion Abate­ment Sys­tems Spe­cial­ists Inc., but the lat­ter’s op­er­a­tions were sus­pended due to “tech­ni­cal dif­fer­ences.”

Cuñado urged hos­pi­tals and other med­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions to treat their own haz­ardous and in­fec­tious wastes or look for an­other firm.

On Mon­day, Cuñado and DENR 7 Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Gil­bert Gon­za­les in­spected the fa­cil­i­ties of DCECI and Chong Hua Hospi­tal Man­daue and Can­cer Cen­ter (CHHMCC) in re­la­tion to the dis­cov­ery of med­i­cal wastes in the Mac­tan Chan­nel and along the shores of the cities of Man­daue and Lapu-Lapu.

Gon­za­les and Cuñado also met with of­fi­cials of CHHMCC and DCECI sep­a­rately to de­ter­mine the vi­o­la­tions com­mit­ted and cul­pa­bil­ity.

Mean­while, Dr. Edna Seno, Man­daue City health of­fi­cer, said she al­ready in­structed health work­ers in Barangays Uma­pad and Pak­naan to visit res­i­dents who com­plained about the foul smell com­ing from the med­i­cal wastes that were dumped near their homes.

Seno asked them to con­firm al­le­ga­tions that med­i­cal wastes that were dumped there were be­ing burned at night.

She also in­structed barangay health work­ers to pre­vent scav­engers and chil­dren from play­ing near the al­leged dump site to avoid get­ting sick.

Seno said they needed to check if scav­engers or chil­dren had come in con­tact with the med­i­cal wastes and if they had got­ten sick as a re­sult.

Seno said burn­ing med­i­cal wastes could cause var­i­ous health prob­lems, in­clud­ing res­pi­ra­tory ill­nesses, and ad­vised res­i­dents to wear face masks, es­pe­cially if they smelled the foul odor again.

SUNSTAR FOTO / AL­LAN CUIZON

THREAT ALONG THE RIVER. A garbage truck passes by a pile of yel­low bags con­tain­ing med­i­cal waste a few me­ters away from the Davao City En­vi­ron­men­tal Care Inc. (DCECI) fa­cil­ity in Barangay Uma­pad, Man­daue City, Cebu. The trash pile sits next to the Bu­tu­anon River. The Man­daue City En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Of­fice has is­sued DCECI a no­tice of vi­o­la­tion for this and or­dered the re­moval of the bags.

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