Canada wants the Philippines to process the 50 container vans of illegally shipped hazardous garbage after officials said they can’t ship it back or penalize the Canadian exporter and the Philippine importer, reports Rappler.
Is the Philippines turning into a dumping ground for foreign waste?
Back in June 2013, several container vans containing domestic and hazardous wastes (such as adult diapers) arrived in the Philippines from Canada. More containers with similar content arrived in several batches; by January 2014, around 50 containers filled with garbage were already in the custody of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
Ontario-based Chronic Incorporated was the company that sent the waste-filled container vans to the Philippines. Philippine-based importer Chronic Plastics was the intended recipient but has not claimed the container vans.
These 40-foot container vans are supposed to contain recyclable plastics but domestic waste and unrecyclable material arrived, instead.
The Philippines requested Canada to get back its garbage but the country refused. Canadian Ambassador Neil Reeder sent a letter to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), saying the Canadian government “has no domestic or international authority to compel the shipper to return the shipment to Canada.”
It seems that Canada wants this issue to be just between the shipper and the exporter, not between two countries.
Huge, hazardous problem
The contents of the container vans are rotting and already leaking at the Port of Manila but Filipino officials are stumped over what to do with the situation. The Department of Health (DOH) has already declared these vans as a health risk to the people working and living in the port area.
The Rappler report mentioned that the total cost of disinfecting these vans amounts to P900,000 ($20,100) while the transfer to the treatment facility would also cost P400,000 ($8,900) for the entire lot.
The BOC said it could not afford to pay this amount; though it is necessary to have these vans removed from the port area as soon as possible to prevent contamination of the other vans in the area.
With Canadian officials saying the best recourse right now is to process the garbage in the Philippines, instead of sending it back, several sectors are afraid this would encourage other countries to send their waste here because they will only need to pay the fee for the processing and disinfection.