Immediate cleanup of hospital waste urged

ENVIRONMENTAL Management Bureau (EMB) Cordillera regional director Reynaldo Digamo ordered to fast track the cleanup of the hospital waste illegally dumped in Tuba, Benguet.

The environment bureau asked to mobilize, remove the pollutants and saturate along Bayacsan Creek in Barangay Taloy Sur flowing towards Tapuakan River.

Seven loads of truck with backfill materials that contains hospital waste mixed with earth were dumped in three different lots in Barangay Taloy Sur, Tuba which polluted the creek.

Violations were issued against the Baguio Medical Center (BMC) of Toxic, Hazardous and Nuclear Act of 1990 (Republic Act or RA 6969), Clean Water Act (RA 9275) and violation in the Environmental Compliance Certificate.

Contractor Onofre Calam-ang and lot owners Prudencio Laurian, Myrna Mallari and Judtih Demot received notices of violations of RA 6969 and RA 9275.

Penalty for violation of RA 9275 include an amount of not less than P10,000 but nor more than P200,000 daily and another P10,000 but will not exceed P50,000 penalty for the violation of RA 6969.

Digamo said that when it comes to the administrative violation, the Pollution Adjucation Board (PAB), a quasi-judicial body that is equivalent to the authority of a regular court, will resolve pollution cases.

“We have to endorse the criminal aspect of this case to PAB. We can suspend your operation, revoke ECC and permits. I have stated earlier I will revoke the accreditation of pollution control officer Engineer Bernard Balatian,” Digamo said referring to BMC.

Engineer Alex Luis of the EMB-CAR Environmental Monitoring and Enforcement Division advised all parties to immediately abate continuous pollutants flowing in the creek.

Tuba Mayor Ignacio Rivera said given the situation at hand, a close coordination is needed to solve the problem.

During the technical conference set by the bureau, BMC medical director Doctor Jennifer Balatian said the hospital availed of the services of the contractors for the construction of a parking lot after some area of the hospital was expropriated with the ongoing road widening project of the Department of Public Works and Highways.

She added a meeting with their staff was made to remind the contractors to secure a permit from the DENR with regards to excavation of the waste since the area to be excavated had a garbage pit.

“The management stands firm that the contractors did not inform us as to the whereabouts of the dumping. They did not notify any authorized personnel that the dumping site was not a registered site,” said Balatian adding they only came to know the matter when a complaint was sent to the management.

However, Calam-ang said he was told of the garbage in the area and was not informed of the hospital waste.

Digamo however said diligence is demanded in the particular situation because the management was no longer certain on the exact location of the burial pit.

Dr. Balatian upon learning the hospital waste was dumped at Taloy Sur, she immediately contacted the contractor to conduct clean up activity.

Based on the monitoring report in 2017, BMC reported 286 kilograms of hazardous waste were collected.

Meanwhile DOH-CAR regional sanitary engineer Nelson Cara said the hospital cannot be closed and that the agency will give the BMC span of time to comply with the requirements.

On the same day, respondents submitted corresponding commitment to clean up the hospital waste.


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