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Japan takes back hazardous waste from Philippines.

MANILA, Dec. 31 Kyodo The Japanese government on Friday shipped back to Japan tons of hospital and household waste illegally exported to the Philippines in July.

The Japanese Embassy paid for and supervised the shipment of 122 containers of hazardous garbage. The waste left Manila's South Harbor at 11:15 a.m. on board the MV Pulsar, a Panamanian-registered vessel with a Filipino crew, and is bound for Tokyo, embassy and Filipino customs officials said.

The shipment comes after weeks of controversy. Filipinos had expressed anger that the garbage -- including hospital waste such as disposable plastic syringes and rubber surgical gloves -- was dumped in the Philippines in violation of the Basel Convention on the shipment of hazardous waste.

The repatriation of the garbage followed talks last week between Philippine Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon and Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Yoshihisa Ara.

The shipment arrived in Manila on July 22 after being cleared by a Japan-based inspector from Societe Generale de Surveillance, which classified it as 80% waste paper and 20% plastic.

Customs authorities discovered the garbage only after the importer, Sinsei Enterprises Inc., failed to claim the shipment, giving the Philippine Bureau of Customs the liberty to open it for inspection.

Inspection showed the containers were stuffed with adult diapers, candy wrappers, aluminum foil, rubber soles, sanitary napkins, plastic bags and noodle cups bearing Japanese characters.

Further investigation showed some of them also contained hospital waste.

Sinsei has claimed it knew nothing about the shipment, explaining they were expecting recyclable paper from a firm, Yugengaisha Nisso Ltd., based in Tochigi Prefecture.

Criminal charges have already been filed by the Philippine Environment Department against Sinsei, while Nisso is being investigated by Japanese authorities.

The Philippine Senate is also conducting a probe into botched plans by Sinsei to set up a landfill in Laguna Province, south of Manila, to bury the garbage being imported from Japan.

A bale of the garbage was left behind in Manila as a sample for the case being pursued against Sinsei.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Jan 3, 2000
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