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Contractor questions Subic tests on wastewater samples

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Retired Vice Adm. Mateo Mayuga, CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Philippines Inc. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—A US Navy contractor on Wednesday questioned the accuracy of the results of laboratory tests on the wastewater samples that the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) collected from its vessel last month, saying the integrity of the sample used and the procedure applied in testing it needed verification.

“First, did the samples come from where they claim these  came from? Second, did they properly observe ‘fingerprinting’ of samples?” retired Vice Adm. Mateo Mayuga, chairman and CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia Philippines Inc.,  said in a statement.

Mayuga said “fingerprinting” means that surrounding waters must be tested “to find out if the ‘fingerprint’ of the specimen drawn is present. This will establish if there indeed was illegal dumping.”

The SBMA is investigating Glenn Defense, a subsidiary of a Singapore-based multinational company operating in 27 countries, for dumping domestic waste from US Navy ships into Philippine waters on Oct. 15.

Tests done by the SBMA Ecology Center on samples taken from Glenn Defense’s tanker MT Glenn Guardian showed the waste was not hazardous, but its organic contents were “beyond permissible limits.”

Subic Water and Sewerage Co., which carried out the tests for the SBMA Ecology Center, found the waste to be of “industrial strength,” which, set against standards prescribed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), is “hazardous.”

‘Not for release’

The samples have not been tested for heavy metals because Subic Water is not equipped to do tests on metals.

Hernan Habacon, spokesperson for Subic Water, said the results of the tests were not conclusive as to whether the waste was toxic.

“But as per our standards, the sample was not fit for release in the environment as the organic content was beyond the permissible limits,” Habacon said.

But Mayuga questioned the integrity of the samples used, and doubted if the right procedures were applied.

“Professionals who know the right way to draw specimens must do the sampling. For example, in medicine, urinalysis must use midstream urine rather than the first concentrated flow. Likewise, using a dipper to draw samples from the surface of the tank will create false results,” Mayuga said.

Prove it

But in a press conference on Wednesday, SBMA Chair Roberto Garcia said the SBMA was standing by the results of Subic Water’s tests on the toxicity levels of the wastewater sample.

Garcia challenged Mayuga to prove his allegations of tampering with the wastewater sample.

“If he has information to show that they were taken elsewhere, then we would be glad to look at it. But as far I’m concerned, they were taken from the Glenn Guardian,” Garcia said.

“As far as we can see [everything was done right] … now if somebody brings in information [to prove otherwise], they can present that so that we can take the proper measures,” he said.

“Of course, we presume regularity here since this was witnessed by several people and Subic Water is an independent utility. We presume that the tests were done properly. But as I said, we welcome any evidence that the process was tampered with,” Garcia said.

 

Still under probe

He clarified that Glenn Defense was “not yet off the hook,” as the SBMA was continuing its investigation and performing due diligence on Glenn Defense’s past operations in the free port.

“They are not yet off the hook on two counts. No. 1, Oct. 15 (when Glenn Guardian was inspected and wastewater samples were taken from it) is an isolated incident and we want to make sure that their past collection efforts were in accordance and in compliance with the necessary procedures,” Garcia said.

“So we are going back, that’s why we are doing the due diligence,  making sure that the proper procedures were followed in the past because this is just one incident,” he said.

“Point No. 2 is that we have to ensure that they have followed all regulations of other government agencies, which are related to this,” he said.

Garcia said the SBMA would need to establish if Glenn Defense had followed regulations set by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina).

The Coast Guard is the agency tasked with enforcing environmental regulations in domestic waters. The Marina, on the other hand, is the agency that handles vessel permits.

Observing standards

In his statement, Mayuga said Glenn Defense’s procedure for waste disposal “strictly observes standards and protocols for waste management.”

“Under no circumstances will Glenn Defense Marine compromise its integrity and reputation for faithful compliance with standards established by the scientific community and maritime protocols,” he said.

Despite the findings of Subic Water, Mayuga said domestic waste on US Navy ships had been “pretreated, in accordance [with] their standard procedure.”

Untreated waste is supposed to be released at sea at a distance of more than 20 kilometers, as prescribed by the Maritime Pollution Protocol, Mayuga said.

The Philippines is a signatory to the protocol, he said.

Glenn Defense releases waste on spots in the sea more than 20 km from shore.

Mayuga stressed that an area more than 20 km from the nearest land point is “beyond the Philippines’ territorial sea.”

Unverified

Garcia said the SBMA had no way of verifying Glenn Defense’s claim that waste from US Navy ships was pretreated.

“Actually I have no way of confirming that. I will have to do a physical inspection, which I have not done,” Garcia said.

“But this is something that we will look into and this is a point related to the permissible dump discharging of wastes in the high seas,” he said.

Mayuga said his company welcomed any investigation of its operations. He said he would never allow anyone in his company to violate safety and environmental  laws.

In a statement posted on the Coast Guard’s website, Rear Adm. Luis Tuason Jr., Coast Guard officer in charge and vice commandant for operations, said that there were 10 areas in the country where dumping was allowed “under certain conditions and specifications of waste … allowed to be discharged.”

No application

Tuason said that any salvor should first secure a permit from the Coast Guard before it dumps or discharges wastes into the sea.

But Tuason said that since January, “we haven’t received any application for dumping permit from Glenn Defense Marine Asia Inc.”


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  • goavan

    mayuga, the issue is very simple.  did your company dumped waste taken from the US navy in the waters near subic?  do you have documentary proof that you were allowed by any gov’t agency to dump waste in the said waters?  ang daming dakdak!!! dati sinama pa family niya sa drama.  ngayon naman you are being technical.  dati your company’s lawyers was using the VFA as a shield but the US ambassador was quick to say no.  ay naku huli kana, its just a matter of time aamin ka rin.  kaya aminin!!!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4C2SFYIH52Y2KR7QPZPHJO2XQQ sl1

      Well said! Give the appropriate punishment for there violation of our environmental laws!

  • francoalminolibre

    if what were dumped were not toxic, why travel all the way from USA and dumped the wastes in the philippines? because philippine authorities are dumb and proof of this matter is the deafening silence of the president on this issue. magaling kasi ang presidente kung political enemy ang kanyang kalaban, napaka ingay. pero kung amreicano, takot.

  • http://twitter.com/Joe_The_Kano Joe Kano

    Translation: PDI’s “reporting” on this issue has been ridiculously alarmist and misleading.

    The Coast Guard even issued a statement debunking the nonsense, but PDI suppressed most of the statement.

    Read it yourself:

    PCG: No waste dumping in Subic

    MANILA –The Philippine Coast Guard
    (PCG) on Monday denies looming reports that there is an actual dumping
    of waste product along the country’s territorial waters in Subic,
    Zambales from the ship which was commissioned by the United States Navy
    during the recently concluded Balikatan Exercises.

    Rear
    Admiral Luis Tuason Jr., PCG Officer-in-Charge and Vice Commandant for
    Operations said that dismissed the reports waste dumping by the M/T
    Glenn Guardian which is owned by Glen Defense Marine Asia Inc. last
    October 15 in the vicinity off Subic.

    The
    said company is Malaysian salvaging firm commissioned by the United
    States Navy to collect the waste product during the war exercises
    between the Philippines and the world super-power country.

    “There is no dumping and we would not allow any dumping in Philippine waters most especially in Subic”, Tuason said.

    Tuason
    said they were surprised after reading news item from one of the daily
    broadsheets since there was no actually discharge of waste in the
    country’s territorial waters.

    “When
    you say dumping, the wastes were discharge directly from ship towards
    the sea waters but in fairness to Glen Marine no actual so far dumping
    was done”, Tuason said.

    The PCG OIC explained that when the US Navy vessel arrived, there was already a support ship as part of their contingent.

    Tuason
    noted that there was a transfer of waste from the US Navy ship to the
    support vessel, M/T Glenn Guardian but the said firm failed to notify
    the coast guard that they will performed a waste transfer from the navy
    ship to its support vessel.

    He
    added that the Coast Guard advised former Philippine Navy
    Flag-Officer-In- Command (FOIC) Vice Admiral Mateo Mayuga (Ret.), who is
    the person connected to the salvour firm in cases that the US Navy
    vessel will transfer waste generated by a ship to a reception facility
    that they need to notify the PCG based on the Memorandum Circular
    01-2006 for them to sent Marine Pollution (MARPOL) personnel to ensure
    that the transfer arrangements would be smooth and to  prevent any
    leakage or spill into the sea water.

    “In the last transfer, there was no spotted spill or leak. The water is clean”, Tuason insisted 

    The
    Coast Guard OIC also mentioned that if ever a leak occurs, the agency
    would see to it lay out booms so that they would be easily collected.

    Admiral
    Tuason explained that there are 10 specific areas in the country’s
    territory where dumping is allowed but of course under certain
    conditions specifications of waste which were allowed to be discharge
    and the salvour company should first secure a permit from the PCG.

    “Since January, we haven’t received any application for dumping permit from Glen Defense Marine Asia Inc.”, Tuason said.

    He
    added that the PCG is currently coordinating with their counter-parts
    in Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia were the said salvour company is based and
    to check to if they carry the waste product on their way back in the
    said country.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LLPTRPFUTYJXKI3KJS4B2UO4LI Jim De Garman

    we knew mayuga from the beginning to defend Glenn Defense as CEO but the issue is simple..i guess he is not a Filipino to defend his country but rather take advantage of his position to make a living by any means..If my memory serve me right, he was the admiral who conducted and prepared report for Hello Garci and was called “The Mayuga Commission” this guy is purely a hoax.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AYITA5V33GYZSLC3G37UCVNTKA Ben

    “A US Navy contractor on Wednesday questioned the accuracy of the results of laboratory tests on the wastewater samples that the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) collected from its vessel last month, saying the integrity of the sample used and the procedure applied in testing it needed verification.”

    Wow, only in the Philippines!!! The Philippines should have a central testing agency that is at par and accepted by the international counterparts for credibility, in this way no one can dispute the accuracy of their testing. We need to improve our research and development, our technical skills as the burden of proof is in the accusers…which is the government itself.



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