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DENR starts investigation of 'smoke belching' steel mills in NCR, Davao and Pampanga.

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has acted on the complaint of the Clean Air Philippines Movement Inc. (Capmi) against five steel mills accused of causing air pollution and operating without necessary permits.

Acting on the complaints filed by the group through its president, Manuel J. Galvez, which was reported by the BusinessMirror on January 3, Director Metodio U. Turbella of the DENR's Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) said violations committed by the mills will be dealt with accordingly as stipulated by Department Administrative Order 2000-81, or the implementing rules and regulations of the Philippines Clean Air Act.

To recall, in October last year, Capmi filed various complaints at the DENR-EMB Central Office against Melter Steel Corp., Real Steel Corp. and Wan Chiong Steel Corp., all in San Simon, Pampanga; Davao Mighty Steel Corp. in Davao and MetroDragon Steel Corp. in Caloocan City, National Capital Region (NCR), for various violations of the Clean Air Act and the Environmental Impact Assessment, or environmental compliance certificate (ECC) law of the Philippines.

Republic Act 8749, or the Clean Air Act of 1999, is the law that protects air quality, while an ECC is a vital requirement before any industrial establishment can be given the needed permit to engage in a business.

In the complaint, Galvez said they have discovered that some factories emitting deadly smoke are able to operate without a permit and an ECC, two basic requirements for business operation in the Philippines.

The air pollution brought about by the operation of these factories pose 'a clear and present danger' and serious risks to the health of the general public, especially the factory workers inside these establishments, Galvez said.

The complaint against the five steel mills prompted Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu to immediately call a thorough investigation.

In a letter to the BusinessMirror dated March 5, Turbella said the DENR-EMB Central Office, Region 3 and Region 11, had already formed a team and conducted inspection and sampling of the steel mills' emission from November to early-December 2017.

A notice of violation was subsequently issued to Wan Chiong Melters and Real Steel Corp. for operating their Air Pollution Source Installations without a valid permit to operate.

On the other hand, the DENR-EMB Region 11 will call a technical conference with the concerned parties concerning the Davao Mighty Steel Corp.

An air quality monitoring on the nearby communities will also be conducted to assess the ambient air quality in the area.

On the other hand, the DENR-EMB NCR Office has already called a conference with the concerned parties, including the Metro Dragon Steel Corp. after conducting their inspections and issuing a notice of violation and notice of adverse findings against the steel mill on December 5, 2017.

The EMB is a lien bureau of the DENR and is in charge of issuing ECC and the primary agency mandated to implement the Philippine Clean Air Act.

The Philippines is struggling to reduce air pollution and achieve the international standard. The acceptable amount of total suspended particles, or TSP, in the air is 90 micrograms per normal cubic meter of air (ug/Ncm).

Around 80 percent of air pollution is caused by smoke-belching vehicles, while around 20 percent are from stationary sources or factories.

In Metro Manila the DENR-EMB said there is marked improvement in ambient air quality as TSP levels went down as low as 116 ug/Ncm-the closest it got to achieving the international standard.
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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Mar 14, 2018
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