US Navy contractor liable for Subic waste dumpingBy Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Senate has found the US Navy contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia liable for violating Philippines laws when it dumped hundreds of thousands of liters of wastewater off Subic, Zambales.
The Senate committee on foreign affairs chaired by Sen. Loren Legarda conducted an inquiry into the dumping of some 200,000 liters of waste by the MT Glenn Guardian, a vessel owned by Glenn Defense Marine Asia which has a contract with the United States Navy to remove waste from the latter’s ships.
The Senate on Wednesday night adopted the committee’s report, findings and recommendations.
A business rival of Glenn Defense’s had tipped off authorities to the dumping in 2011.
“While it may have been so that competing business interests may have motivated certain quarters to complain about the violations being committed by Glenn Defense, the fact remains that violations were committed by Glenn Defense,” said Legarda in the report to the plenary on Wednesday.
Legarda said that as far back as March 2007, a complaint had been lodged by the Lighterage Association with the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) on the alleged failure of Glenn Defense to secure permits from the latter agency.
“Notwithstanding this, Glenn Defense has done very little to comply with all the regulatory requirements of the government, while government agencies have also failed to enforce its regulations,” Legarda said.
The committee said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was remiss in fulfilling its mandate to control marine pollution.
The panel also indicated that the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFACOM) should do more to ensure respect for Philippine laws during the temporary presence of US forces in the country.
“Although the DENR is mandated to serve as the primary government agency responsible for the implementation of the country’s environmental laws, it has shirked its responsibilities insofar as coordinating and cooperating with the Philippine Coast Guard in the enforcement of the country’s maritime laws,” the committee report said.
Legarda said “the DENR is tasked, under the country’s Clean Water Act, to review and update the country’s effluent standards that need to be observed by pertinent government agencies in the enforcement of the country’s maritime laws. Those guidelines have not been revised since 1990.”
“In the instant case, the DENR failed to take a proactive role in addressing the complaints of maritime pollution control,” Legarda said.
She said the issue at hand highlighted the need for the VFACOM to ensure that pertinent laws and regulations of the Philippines were respected and observed by all parties directly participating, incidental to, or merely providing contracted services to transport, haul and treat the sewage and hazardous waste of US ships participating in VFA exercises.
“This is only possible if the VFACOM proactively pursues its coordinative functions,” Legarda said.
The Senate recommended that the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, DENR and Philippine Coast Guard initiate administrative proceedings against Glenn Defense for its failure to comply with the country’s environmental and marine protection laws and regulations, and to impose the necessary penalties as warranted.