The first time I heard of Cleanway Technology Corporation was back in 2005. I had just come from a Congressional oversight hearing for the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act on the IWMI incinerator in Cavite. After the hearing, most of those who attended, legislators included, went to visit Cleanway, a facility that treated hospital and industrial wastes in Barangay Maguyam, Silang, Province of Cavite.

I was particularly interested in their hydroclave technology which was a non-burn alternative for hospital waste. At the time of the visit, the company had just started operating and was processing mostly medical wastes. To me, the technology looked promising. But I wondered what toxic wastes they would be treating because that is usually the tricky part. Greenpeace strongly believes that the problem of toxic wastes can only be effectively eliminated by phasing them out in production and finding safer and cleaner substitutes.

My second time at the facility was on Oct. 30, 2009. This time it was to take action against the company for a series of chemical releases in October which resulted in more than 70 people from the host community hospitalized for chemical inhalation. Each time there was a very strong chemical odor, members of the community would go around the industrial park to trace the source and they attest to the fact that the noxious chemicals really came from the company.

We met with company officials a few days later to ask for full disclosure of company information on the kind of toxic wastes they accept for treatment, procedures for treatment, disposal, etc. This is necessary in order to properly deal with the environmental contamination and diagnose and treat the health problems resulting from the exposure. They committed to sending us the documents that we needed by the end of this week.

Cleanway vowed to cooperate with the different investigating bodies but at the same time asked that they be given time to install some pollution control devices within the month and implement other corrective measures. There are proposals on how to deal with the medical costs but as of this writing, no agreement has been reached between the company and the community.

Lastly, they committed to supporting the call for Clean Production and Zero Discharge.

By engaging Cleanway, Greenpeace hopes to achieve transformative action. But Cleanway does need to address the problem of hazardous waste treatment first. They can be a potential ally for future policy advocacies related to clean production and right to know IF they get over this bump.

Investigations are ongoing and a Cease and Desist Order was served to the company as of November 5, 2009. As of today, Cleanway is not operating.