THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 warned hospitals and medical facilities to manage their own wastes or face penalties.
Rather than depend on firms like the Philippine Abatement Systems Services Inc. (PASSI) to collect and treat their wastes, hospitals, birthing homes, lying-in clinics and laboratories should have their own waste treatment mechanism as required by their environmental compliance certificates (ECCs), said DENR 7 spokesperson Eddie Llamedo.
But Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama asked if there is an alternative solution to the estimated 30,000 kilos of infectious wastes left uncollected in hospitals and medical facilities because the lone service provider was ordered to halt operations after some violations.
"Is there an alternative if DENR won't approve? Everybody should be helping. Let's not be too quick (to decide). Sometimes, the approach is too myopic. In that case, we cannot be myopic about it because it involves toxic materials," said Rama.
He was reacting to DENR's May 18 notice of violation issued against the PASSI, which prompted the 11-year-old lone private service provider in Metro Cebu that collects infectious medical wastes to halt operations.
P10,000 - P40,000
Medical wastes have not been collected for over a month since PASSI was not given a transport, storage, disposal (TSD) permit by the DENR.
But in a press conference yesterday, Llamedo warned hospitals that they will face a fine ranging from P10,000 to P40,000 if they don't manage their own wastes.
Last year, the Minglanilla District Hospital, Talisay City District Hospital, St. Anthony Mother and Child Hospital and the Adventist Hospital failed in doing so.
Being first time violators, the four hospitals were fined P10,000 each.
"As ECC holders and as waste generators, hospitals and other medical facilities are accountable to their own waste," Llamedo said.
Based on a joint circular issued by the DENR and the Department of Health (DOH), hospitals and other medical facilities are required to do on-site treatment of wastes.
But instead of organizing their own system, hospitals and medical facilities hired PASSI to collect their medical wastes.
Unfortunately for hospitals and medical facilities in Cebu, only PASSI is accredited with DENR to handle, transport and treat medical waste.
Llamedo said that they cannot renew PASSI's accreditation unless it complies with DENR's conditions, including the construction of a disposal facility for treated hospital wastes.
Aside from the lack of accreditation, PASSI's license to operate already expired yesterday.
The Cebu City Government will meet with DENR officials, PASSI and the City's Solid Waste Management Board (SWMB) today to discuss the problem of uncollected infectious medical wastes in Metro Cebu.
DENR 7, on the other hand, plans to meet hospital and clinic administrators on Friday to discuss alternatives if PASSI fails to secure permits for its operations. A separate meeting with PASSI has been scheduled to review the latter's requirements.
Hospitals, birthing homes, lying-in clinics and laboratories recently signed a petition asking Rama to mediate between DENR and PASSI in order to solve the uncollected infectious waste.
PASSI allegedly transported infectious wastes from the different hospitals without a manifesto and a TSD permit.
The company was then ordered by DENR 7 to apply for a TSD permit, secure a permit to transport waste from every hospital, construct a TSD facility for the treatment of the hospital waste, and to upgrade their wastewater treatment plant.
But according to PASSI, it already complied with all the requirements.
PASSI has already submitted a progress report to DENR but continues to wait for DENR's final inspection and issuance of a permit.
Rama also said he wants to know from the DENR today why PASSI is the only accredited private service provider that collects, treats and disposes infectious wastes from the hospitals.