TO PREVENT another pileup of hazardous and medical wastes, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 has accepted applicants for the operation of a treatment and disposal facility in Metro Cebu.

DENR 7 Spokesperson Eddie Llamedo confirmed that there are already four applicants signifying interest in operating a facility for medical wastes, aside from the Pollution Abatement Systems Services Inc. (Passi), which was granted the necessary permits last April following a month’s suspension of its operations.

“We have accepted four applications but we have yet to approve them because we required them to have a treatment and disposal facility,” said Llamedo.

DENR encouraged competition among treatment facilities to improve services.

Passi has been the lone service provider in Metro Cebu for a long time. It collects medical and hazardous wastes from Metro Cebu’s hospitals, birthing homes, lying-in clinics and laboratories.

Llamedo said that DENR 7 also approved the transportation permits of 15 medical facilities out of over a hundred.

DENR 7 also opened the hazardous permits section, which is dedicated solely for the quick disposal of permits.

Among the permits needed by a collection and treatment company are the transportation, storage and disposal (TSD) permit, discharge permit and the permit to operate.

The TSD permit is released after DENR 7 personnel inspects the company’s facility and is satisfied with the physical structure.

The permits are approved after an inspection, whether the physical structure or the pollutants released during the treatment and disposal are within acceptable standards based on the Philippine Clean Air Act (Republic Act 8749) and the Philippine Clean Water Act (Republic Act 9275).

Due to the lack of competition, medical wastes in Metro Cebu piled up last March 18 after DENR 7 suspended Passi’s operation for lack of permits.

Thirty-seven medical facilities immediately signed a petition egging Mayor Michael Rama to help.

Before April ended, Passi resumed its operations after complying with DENR’s requirements; but by then, 30,000 kilos of infectious medical wastes from over a hundred facilities already piled up.