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Philippines probes toxic dumping from South Korea
GOVERNMENT investigators are conducting a “deeper probe” into the dumping of toxic wastes at a wharf in Cabangan, Zambales in northern Philippines last week.
The Philippines is coordinating with South Korea about the exact entity that shipped 53,000 metric tons of phosphogypsum, a fertilizer by-product that is radioactive, Czar Eric M. Nuqui, Environment Crime Division chief at the National Bureau of Investigation, said at a briefing yesterday.
“We have already made some arrangements, or some verifications with our friends and we are trying to find out the exact entity that sent it here to the Philippines,” he said.
Government agents on Friday arrested nine people including two Chinese for dumping the wastes toxic wastes in Zambales province.
The suspects, seven of whom were Filipinos, were caught in the act of dumping the wastes from a ship that came from Gwangyang, South Korea, the National Bureau of Investigation said in a statement yesterday.
The bureau conducted the operation with the Philippine Coast Guard, it said.
The suspects underwent inquest proceedings before the Justice department for violating the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
Yori Yori Trading, the shipment consignee, had not secured a clearance from the Environmental Management Bureau, Mr. Nuqui said.
“Were able to establish that the purpose of the importation is not for use by our industrial companies,” Mr. Nuqui said. “It was imported here in the Philippines for dumping.”
The toxic wastes were transported from South Korea by M/V Dayang Century, a Liberian-registered flag vessel, NBI said.
Government agents also seized a light cargo truck used to transport the phosphogypsum, a radioactive substance that can cause sneezing, dizziness, eye irritation and skin dehydration, NBI spokesman Ferdinand M. Lavin said at the same briefing.
While documents showed the cargo came from Korea, phosphogypsum is largely mined in the US, Latin American countries and China, he said at the same briefing.
Mr. Lavin said the Coast Guard and Environment department were keeping the wastes to prevent contamination. “These are being kept for evidentiary purposes until further orders from the courts.” — V.M.M. Villegas