By Chito Chavez
International environmental, health, and human rights organizations including some Canadian groups took up the cudgel for the EcoWaste Coalition in its bid to have the garbage shipped back to Vancouver, Canada which was illegally dumped in the Philippines in 2013 – 2014.
On January 30, 2019, EcoWaste Coalition sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna urging their government to resolve the dumping scandal involving 103 containers of mixed garbage shipments, approximately 2,500 tons, which has dragged on for five years without resolution.
But both officials have not responded to the EcoWaste Coalition’s letter.
“The dumping of Canadian wastes in the Philippines is immoral and illegal. We respectfully request that the Canadian government provide a clear and definite date by which it will repatriate its garbage so that this protracted ordeal can finally be promptly ended,” said Aileen Lucero, national coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“Prime Minister Trudeau has promised that Canada will act in an environmentally responsible manner and fulfil its obligations under the Basel Convention, which forbids dumping wastes overseas. Words are not enough. South Korea has acted on the first part of its wastes and after five long years of delay, it is time for the Canadian government to demonstrate commitment to international environmental law and take back its wastes.
Environmentalists in Canada and around the world are calling on PM Trudeau to take action now to end this shameful misconduct,” said Kathleen Ruff, director of human rights group RightOnCanada.
Through a letter sent to Trudeau and leaders of Canada’s Conservative Party, New Democratic Party, Bloc Québécois and Green Party, ten Canadian and international organizations, as well as a number of health and environmental experts, have expressed their strong support for the appeal made by the EcoWaste Coalition.
“We call on you to take the following actions – ensure the expeditious return to Canada of the wastes illegally exported from Canada and dumped in the Philippines, as is required by the Basel Convention, and ratify the Basel Ban amendment, which would prohibit the export of hazardous waste for any reason from more developed countries to less developed countries,” the signatories said.
“We call on you to demonstrate your commitment to the Basel Convention and fulfil the actions requested by the EcoWaste Coalition,” they added.
The group also stressed the said treaty on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous waste and their disposal is an important UN agreement “to uphold environmental responsibility and environmental justice.”
Among the groups that signed the letter sent to Trudeau on February 11, 2019 were RightOnCanada, Canadian Environmental Law Association, Basel Action Network, Citizens’ Network on Waste Management, European Society for Environmental and Occupational Medicine, Greenpeace Canada, Health and Environmental Justice Support International, IPEN, Occupational Knowledge International, and the Toronto Environment Alliance.
EcoWaste Coalition also said noted academicians, medical doctors and scientists also endorsed the letter.