1st Davao bio-medical waste facility launched Created on February 22, 2013, 7:26 am Posted by nup

THE first bio-medical waste facility in Davao City is ready to operate starting next week after it was formally opened Thursday in its location near the sanitary landfill in New Carmen, Tugbok District.

Ricky S. Dayot, vice president for engineering, research and development of RAD Green Solutions, said they will start collecting medical wastes -- infectious, pathological wastes and sharps -- from hospitals in the city to address the need especially for those who do not have their own medical waste treatment facility.

The RAD Green Solutions has put on two pyroclave facilities, with each one having the capacity to process 1.5 tons of medical wastes per day.

Dayot said pyrolisis is a non-burn technology that would process medical wastes such as body parts and turn the materials to charcoal.

"Body parts will decompose in the absence of oxygen," he said, adding that 20 percent of medical wastes are body parts.

On the other hand, Dayot said that if fluids are expose to high heat, 200 percent fluids will be vaporized leaving the plastics.

Dayot also said sharps, which include needles, syringes, scalpels, saws, blades and infusion sets, will be sterilized and shredded.

Dayot said medical wastes will be collected everyday using refrigerated vans and charging P20 per kilo. Containers, on the other hand, will be free of charge.

"Main process is to minimize spread of disease," he said.

Based on the procedural manual of the Health department, a total of eight operators of the facility are required to wear cover-all safety uniform, polyethylene gloves, protective visors, safety helmets and respirators every time they process.

Meanwhile, collectors will put on gloves and protective visors.

Erriberto P. Barriga Jr., executive vice president of Information and Communication Technology-Davao and consultant of RAD, said the end product of the processed wastes goes back to the landfill.

"The good thing about this facility is (it is housed) right along the landfill," Barriga said.

Through this, he said hospitals will be saving a lot more than the usual process.

Dolly Remojo, of City Environment and Natural Resources, said the pyroclave facility contributes a lot in helping the city address its dilemma in disposal of medical waste.

She said the landfill is designed only for residual wastes.

Davao City produces 2.5 tons of medical wastes daily.

 
U.S. Navy to Scrap Vessel Stuck on Philippine Reef Created on February 22, 2013, 7:21 am Posted by nup

MANILA — The United States Navy has decided to scrap the 7 million minesweeper stuck on an environmentally sensitive Philippine reef, a spokesman said on Thursday, while Philippine officials examined potential legal violations and fines to be levied against the United States. 

“The plan is to dismantle the ship into three pieces and remove the sections by crane,” said Lt. Cmdr. James Stockman, a Navy public affairs officer temporarily based at the American Embassy in Manila.

The complete loss of a Navy ship due to an accident during peace time “is a rarity,” Commander Stockman said.

The ship, the 224-foot U.S.S. Guardian, struck the Tubbataha Reef, a Unesco World Heritage site in the southern Philippines, on Jan. 17. According to Unesco, the reefs are home to more than 350 species of coral and almost 500 types of fish, including a wide variety of creatures, like whales, dolphins, sharks and turtles.

The Navy is investigating the cause of the incident, including the possibility that inaccurate digital navigation charts were a factor.

Trying to revive Manila's toxic river heart Created on February 20, 2013, 2:03 am Posted by nup

Boys shout in delight as they flip backwards off a bridge. Fishermen quietly cast rods out. They are joyful acts that should belong to an earlier era, before the Philippines' Pasig River turned toxic.

Yet some slum dwellers in Manila whose shanty homes choke the river and its tributaries have little choice but to live as if the national capital's most important waterway is clean.

"It's hot. We have no other place to swim and escape the heat," 16-year-old Christian Ivanes said as he took a break from jumping off a bridge near the mouth of the river with his friends.

Ivanes, his seven siblings and a few hundred other illegal squatters live under the bridge in stilt houses made of junk wood and plastic, their existence as desperate as any in an Asian city infamous for its brutal poverty.

Shopping from the community stall at high tide requires wading ankle-deep through plastic wrappers and other garbage that is floating in black water. A thick stench rises with strong hints of untreated sewage and industrial waste.

"There have been people who have gone into this with an open wound and died," said Gina Lopez, a prominent environment campaigner who is leading the latest government drive to clean up the Pasig.

The national government is spending 10 billion pesos (0 million) a year to transform the waterway and its 47 tributaries, according to Lopez, chairperson of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission.

Half the money is being spent on trying to relocate about 300,000 squatters who live directly along the banks of the river and tributaries, known locally as esteros.

"As long as there are illegal dwellers living along the estero, using the place as their toilets and dumping garbage, there's no clean-up that can happen. So that's the beginning," Lopez said.

The commission has cleared and rehabilitated four esteros since 2010, when President Benigno Aquino took power and implemented the programme, according to Lopez.

It is aiming to start work on 16 more this year, then have all the esteros as well as the Pasig transformed by the time Aquino ends his term in 2016.

At Estero de Paco, a 2.9-kilometre (1.8-mile) tributary that a few years ago was one of the most polluted in the city, shanty homes have been replaced with tree-lined boardwalks while water-treatment machines now nestle amid plants.

The more than 1,300 families, or roughly 6,500 squatters, who lived within three metres (10 feet) of the channel have been relocated, while vendors at a nearby market have stopped dumping garbage into the water.

Programmes with local water companies to improve sewage facilities have also been implemented.

Flooding that regularly hits the area has lessened because drains are not blocked by garbage, according to Lopez, and the residents who have remained beyond the three-metre clearance zone appear much happier.

"It's like living in a subdivision now," said Evelyn Quitala, 51, who has called Estero de Paco home all her life and runs a small shop from her two-storey concrete home.

"We can now jog here along the footpath and our children don't have to go somewhere else to play... and it is no longer smelly."

Estero de Paco is being used as a template for cleaning up the entire Pasig river system.

Nevertheless, while the estero may look better, the water remains badly polluted, according to Javier Coloma Brotons, an urban development specialist at the Asian Development Bank who is involved in cleaning up the tributary.

And although the rehabilitation commission is aiming for a major transformation of the entire water system within just three years, Coloma Brotons cautioned the project could take decades to complete.

He said many of the city's more than 12 million residents polluted the waters in some way.

Among the myriad of problems he cited were the lack of sewage treatment plants and trained people to maintain them, countless small businesses that dump waste into the water, and polluting industries upstream.

Coloma Brotons also pointed out that the 27-kilometre Pasig River -- which connects Laguna de Bay, the largest lake in the Philippines, with Manila Bay -- is tidal.

This means pollution from the vast Manila Bay, including waste from huge ports, washes back up the river.

"To clean up the river, you also have to address problems with the bay," Coloma Brotons said.

Adding to the complexity is the general chaos of the Philippine political system, which makes it extremely difficult for a co-ordinated approach from many government branches and vested interests.

Such issues have led to repeated and costly failures to transform the Pasig.

The national government launched its first project to rehabilitate the Pasig in 1989, and the rehabilitation commission was formed 10 years later with a mandate to completely transform the waterway by 2014.

Even now, few people expect the government to be able to relocate 300,000 slum dwellers by 2016, as similar programmes for other shanty towns across Manila have repeatedly failed over recent years.

People are determined to stay in the slums despite the atrocious conditions because they are close to jobs, with relocation sites typically many hours' commute from Manila.

Nevertheless Lopez insists a firm commitment from the Aquino administration means the latest clean-up campaign will work.

"I believe Manila can be interlinked and interlaced with waterways that are clean and avenues for recreation," she said.

5.9B US Dollar mine project, PH’s largest, gets DENR OK Created on February 20, 2013, 1:58 am Posted by nup

The country’s largest mining project has finally gotten the green light from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) but under stiff conditions, an official said on Tuesday.

The controversial .9-billion Tampakan copper-gold project of Swiss firm Xstrata and its local unit, Sagittarius Mining Inc. (SMI), in Southern Mindanao has been granted an environmental compliance certificate (ECC), one of the requirements it needs to operate.

The project was stalled due to a provincial ordinance banning open-pit mining in South Cotabato.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said the recent opinion of the Department of Justice (DOJ) stressing the supremacy of national laws over local regulations prompted the DENR to issue the ECC.

“The DOJ opinion was very clear to us. It was a major factor in our decision [to allow SMI to proceed with the project],” Paje said on the phone.

He said his department issued the permit to the SMI project upon the recommendation of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), an agency attached to the DENR.

But he said the grant of the ECC to SMI was subject to certain conditions, and failure to comply could result in its revocation.

“SMI should make public the feasibility of the project, ensure that the area does not cover those where mining is prohibited and ensure social acceptability through consultations with stakeholders,” Paje said in a statement.

SC en banc voids ‘dubious’ RCAO resolution of Sereno Created on February 19, 2013, 3:39 am Posted by nup

The Supreme Court en banc has taken back the spurious resolution handed down by the office of   Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno putting up a Regional Court Administration Office (RCAO) in Cebu City without the prior approval of all of the justices.
In a three-page resolution, the 15-man tribunal invalidated all the previous resolutions, administrative orders and issuances made by Sereno when she revived RCAO on her own.
“This resolution supersedes all prior resolutions, administrative orders and issuances on the covered matter and shall take effect upon its promulgation,” the latest resolution on the controversy pointed out and is entitled: “Creating A Needs Assessment Committee to Study the Necessity of Decentralizing the Functions Appurtenant to the Power of the Supreme Court of Administrative Supervision Over Lower Court.”
The resolution would invalidate the reopening of RCAO done by Sereno in Cebu City last Nov. 26, 2012.
Sereno had earlier issued a draft resolution with insertions of “whereas” clauses which could make it appear that her fake resolution is ratified. 
The Chief Justice reportedly made a draft on her own despite the fact that she is not the ponente in the case, but Associate Justice Jose Portugal Perez.
The latest resolution stated that the chairman of the Committee to study RCAO’s creation would be Perez.
The members would be Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez, Deputy Court Administrators Raul Villanueva , Jennylind Dolorino, Assistant Court Administrator Thelma Bahia, Chief of Financial Management Office Atty. Lilian Baribal-Co, Atty. Caridad Pabello of the Office of the Administrative Services, Office of Halls of Justice Chief Atty. Regina Adoracion Filomena-Ignacio and Judge Geraldine Faith Econg, Administrator of the Judicial Reform Program.
“Now therefore, the court hereby resolves to create a decentralization needs assessment committee to study and determine the necessity of decentralizing administrative functions appurtenant to the exercise of the Supreme Court’s power of supervision over lower courts; the functions to be devolved; the implementation of the devolution of the functions; and the efficient and effective performance of the devolved functions.”
It also stated that this “committee is given a period of two months within which to submit its report and recommendation to the Supreme Court en banc.”

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