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Arroyo bill takes on toxic waste disposal

Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has sponsored a bill providing for a framework for the handling of hazardous and radioactive wastes, coming in the wake of a series of alleged garbage dumping into the Philippines by other countries.

Arroyo’s  Hazardous and Radioactive Wastes Management bill consolidated House Bills 2964, 142, 540, 1528, 3610, 4287, 5901, 6596, 7093, 8288 and 8776. 

The passage of the bill is considered one of the legacies of the former President who later served as Speaker.

Arroyo said electronic equipment contain heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury, as well as other hazardous component or additives.

The lawmaker said requiring the recycle and reuse of these electronic equipment will greatly reduce the amount of hazardous materials being discarded in solid waste management facilities.

“Disposing these metals from such equipment via traditional methods can pose a significant threat to public health and the environment,” said Arroyo.

The substitute bill declares it is the policy of the State to advance the protection of human health and the environment from the potential risks of hazardous and radioactive wastes within the framework of sustainable development.

Towards this end, the State shall develop and implement national and local integrated and comprehensive hazardous and radioactive waste management programs focusing on pollution prevention and resource conversation and recovery, which shall: 1) improve waste management techniques, organizational arrangement, methods of collection, separation and recovery of waste; 2) promote environmentally safe disposal of residues; 3) minimize the generation of waste, process substitution, resource recovery, recycling and reuse and treatment; and 4) institutionalize public participation in the development and implementation of hazardous and radioactive wastes management programs.

It shall also apply to the generation, possession, collection, recovery, reuse, storage, transport, treatment and disposal of hazardous and radioactive wastes in the country for whatever purpose. The bill shall also cover the transit and entry into Philippine territory of such wastes.

The bill mandates the departments of Environment and Natural Resources,  Health, and the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute, in coordination with the Department of Education, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, the Commission on Higher Education, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Philippine Information Agency  and the local government units, to conduct a continuing education and information campaign on hazardous and radioactive wastes management.

It aims to 1) develop public awareness of the impacts of hazardous and radioactive wastes and how to prevent or minimize their adverse effects; 2) focus on activities which are feasible and have the greatest impact on hazardous and radioactive waste management; and 3) encourage the general public, accredited non-governmental units and people’s organization  to publicly endorse and patronize environment-friendly products.

The government, through the DepEd and in coordination with concerned government agencies, NGOs, and private institutions shall strengthen the integration of environment concerns in school curricula at all levels, with particular emphasis on the principles underlying hazardous and radioactive waste management to promote environmental awareness and affirmative action among the citizenry.

Likewise, the DENR, DOH and the PNRI shall encourage commercial and industrial establishments, through appropriate incentives other than tax incentives, to initiate, participate and invest in the integrated hazardous and radioactive wastes management to promote environmental awareness and affirmative action among the citizenry.  

The funds for the effective implementation of the Act shall be included in the annual General Appropriation Act of the DENR, DOH and Department of Science and Technology.  

The bill mandates the DENR, DOH and the PNRI to issue the necessary implementing rules and regulations to effectively implement the provisions of the Act.

In addition, the bill mandates the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee created under Republic Act 9003 or the “Ecology Solid Waste Management Act of 2000” to monitor the implementation of the Act.

Topics: Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo , toxic waste disposal
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