CAMP OLIVAS, Pampanga -- A ship carrying toxic waste was intercepted by joint operatives of Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Friday, November 22.
Authorities said a Liberian-flagged merchant ship from South Korea, carrying toxic substance known as phosphor gypsum, was unloading the toxic substance at Cabangan Wharf in Cabangan, Zambales.
Police said the master and crew of the merchant ship, carrying 53,000 metric tons of the toxic substance from Gwangyang Port, South Korea, were apprehended.
The report said the National Coast Watch Center (NCWC) and the joint PCG-NBI team proceeded to the area to intercept the Liberian-flagged merchant ship.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources noted that phospho gypsum is radioactive due to the presence of naturally occurring radioactive elements.
Crane operators and several crews were already unloading the toxic substance when the operatives arrived at the said area.
The crews said the cargo was intended to be hauled in San Mateo, Rizal.
The operatives boarded the ship and requested the master to present the cargo permits for such operation, but he failed to do so.
The master and crew were informed to cease the unloading operation because of their violations of Republic Act (RA) 6969 or Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990 and RA 9003 or Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
The NBI further informed them of their rights under the Miranda Doctrine.
The report said the ship master contacted the agent and ship owner to inform them of the situation.
The PCG conducted an inventory of the ship equipment and other vehicles involved in the unloading operation.
The report said the ship master, its crews, as well as the crane operators were arrested and were brought to the NBI Headquarters in Manila for proper custody and further investigation.
The PCG was tipped off and found out that two other merchant vessels from different international shipping companies carrying the same toxic cargo arrived in Subic Port between August and September 2018 for two incidents of attempted importation, but were denied and ordered to return to its originating ports in South Korea. (Ric Sapnu)