TREATMENT FACILITIES. Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) 7 (Central Visyas) Regional Director Engr. William Cuñado leads a team in inspecting one of the treatment, storage, and disposal facilities in Cebu hauling and treating hospital wastes. (Photo contributed by EMB-7 information officer Cindy Pepito)
CEBU CITY — The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) 7 (Central Visayas) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Thursday denied reports that it delayed the issuance of permits to waste treatment, storage, and disposal (TSD) operators in Cebu.
EMB-7 Director William Cuñado said in a statement that his office had released the permits of the applicants for TSD operations after they were able to comply with the requirements under Republic Act (RA) No. 6969, or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990.
“TSD facilities found to have violated the Environmental Compliance Certificate and other permit conditions are required to comply first before this regional office endorses their application to EMB central office (in Manila) for approval of their registration,” he said.
Cuñado said the establishments must comply with the requirements “to make sure that they are operating without causing harm to the environment.”
“After all, the objective of the bureau is to protect the environment and the public from irresponsible operators,” he said.
The EMB official was reacting to reports that representatives of medical facilities had voiced out their sentiments on the alleged delay in the issuance of permits, during an executive session of the Cebu City Council last week.
Medical wastes are said to be stocked in hospital premises due to an insufficient number of accredited TSD operators that can haul Metro Cebu’s medical wastes.
Cuñado cited Pollution Abatement Systems Specialists, Inc. (PASSI), the biggest TSD operator in the region, which was found to have exceeded its actual storage capacity.
He said the firm was also found last year to have violated the regulations on improper management of health care wastes.
Due to the firm’s issue on approved storage capacity, Cuñado said EMB-7 discovered some of the wastes stored in container vans which, he emphasized, are not prescribed based on DENR Administrative Order No. 2013-22.
The agency required the firm to immediately dispose of or manage the excess waste, he said.
PASSI was permitted to resume collection of medical waste after it complied with the requirement by vertically expanding their storage capacity to maximize the approved capacity of 3,000 cubic meters.
Cuñado also reminded medical facilities in Metro Cebu or any waste generator that fails to secure Hazardous Waste Generator ID Registration and Permit to Transport (PTT) to comply with the law.
“They (hospitals) have to be warned that failure to register and to secure PTT, their hired TSD operators cannot haul their hospital wastes,” he said.
As of Thursday, EMB-7’s Toxic Substances and Hazardous Wastes Management Permitting Section showed that five applications for PTT of hazardous wastes have been approved.
These PTTs are for private hospitals in Metro Cebu.
The estimated annual total generation of medical wastes from health care facilities in the region amounts to 1,259.43 metric tons, based on the registration records of EMB-7.
According to Department of Health (DOH) 7 records, the region has a total of 565 health care facilities scattered all over Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor.
Of this number, only 118 were registered in EMB-7 as hazardous waste generators, while 447 health care facilities were told to comply with the provisions of RA 6969.
It can be recalled that EMB-7 was able to fish out more than 100 kg. of hospital wastes found floating off the shores of Mactan Island last month.
Davao City Environmental Care, Inc. was slapped with a PHP250,000 fine after the agency found several violations linked to the discovery of hospital wastes along the Mactan channel. (PNA)