The Environment Department said it plans to file cases against five steel mills for allegedly releasing air polluting emissions that pose serious hazards to public health and the environment.
The department earlier launched an investigation into the activities of the five steel mills following complaints of alleged violation of labor and environmental laws, particularly the Clean Air Act or Republic Act No. 8749.
The companies were members of the Philippine Induction Smelting Industry Association which were using induction furnace for steel manufacturing, an equipment called by the Asean Iron and Steel Council as obsolete and banned in China due to the pollution that it caused and alleged substandard steel that it produced.
Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said in an interview that the department would not allow these companies to continue their practices at the expense of the environment.
“We will not allow these capitalists to cause damage to the environment,” Antiporda said, citing the department’s recent moves against a group of resorts for the environmental damage it had caused in Boracay Island.
The AISC, calling for the ban of induction furnace in Asean, said that induction furnace facilities were “environmentally unfriendly” because they generally lacked proper environmental control and were not equipped with waste gas treatment system.
“As a consequence, the process releases harmful gases and generate high degree of pollutants to the environment,” the AISC said in its position paper presented during the last meeting of the Asean senior economic officials meeting.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu earlier ordered an investigation into possible violations of environmental laws by the five steel mills which were accused of emitting high air pollution levels.
“Given the veracity of the allegations, the investigation must be completed as quickly as possible so that we can take immediate measures to address the problem and, if necessary, hold these companies accountable for their pollution,” Cimatu said.
Labor rights group Philippine Association of Free Labor Unions and environmental group Clean Air Philippines Movement Inc. alleged that the air pollution at the five steel mills exceeded the maximum level set by the World Health Organization.
Both groups also lodged a complaint with the Labor Department against the five steel mills based on their findings.