By Minerva Newman
CEBU CITY – The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Central Visayas has approved five applications for Permit to Transport (PTT) of hazardous wastes based on its records as of February 7.
The five Treatment, Storage and Disposal (TSD) facilities approved were from Mercado General Hospital Inc./Qualimed Cebu IT Park Clinic, Vicente Gullas Memorial Hospital, Sto. Niño Diagnostic Clinic, Dr. Ignacio M. Cortes Hospital Inc., and, Amosup Seamen’s Hospital-Cebu.
EMB-7 regional director William Cunado bared that based on the bureau’s registration records, the estimated annual total generation of medical wastes from healthcare facilities in the region is at 1,259.43 metric tons.
As per Department of Health (DOH-7) records, Central Visayas has 565 healthcare facilities all over Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor. However, only 118 of the said facilities registered with EMB-7 have hazardous waste generators, Cunado said.
He strongly encouraged the remaining 447 healthcare facilities to comply with the provisions of RA-6969 to avoid future crisis both in environmental management in the community and that the bureau does not delay any permit issuances for those who are compliant TSD operators.
Cuñado noted that permit issuances that might be delayed could be due to the firm’s non-compliance with the requirements of RA-6969 or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act.
“TSD facilities found to have violated Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) and other permit conditions are required to comply first before EMB-7 endorses their application to EMB Central Office for approval of their TSD Registration.” Cuñado added.
These requirements are to make sure that these business establishments are operating without causing harm to the environment as our objective is to protect the environment and the public from irresponsible operators, Cunado stated.
In an effort to address various concerns on the handling and disposal of medical wastes in Cebu, the EMB-DENR-7 convened a multi-stakeholders’ forum Friday with the DOH-7, local government units of Cebu City, Lapulapu City and Mandaue City; pollution control officers and representatives of healthcare facilities and TSD facility operators in Metro Cebu in attendance.
DENR-7 regional executive director Gilbert Gonzales told stakeholders to harmonize efforts to ensure proper management of healthcare wastes.
He emphasized the huge responsibility of waste generators, in this case the hospitals and healthcare facilities on the responsible handling of their wastes from generation to disposal.
“The wastes generator’s responsibility goes beyond contracting a TSD facility to transport, treat, store and dispose their garbage on their behalf. Your responsibility is from cradle to grave,” Gonzales said.
He also warned TSD operators to strictly comply with the environmental regulations or face appropriate consequence or penalties.
As regulatory bodies, DENR, DOH and LGUs agreed to strengthen their monitoring and evaluation processes for the strict compliance of environmental laws from among the waste generators and TSD facility operators.
EMB-7 committed to establish a Help Assistance Desk to cater to all concerns related to healthcare wastes and conduct immediate processing of all necessary permits to avoid delay in the operation.