Global Day of Action against Waste Incineration

Feature story - June 17, 2002
Greenpeace together with an NGO delegation composed of environmental and church groups met with Department of Health (DOH) officials led by Dr. Antonio Lopez, Undersecretary for Operations, to submit a petition endorsed by 170 groups and individuals from the Philippines and 44 other countries, which calls for the phase out of existing medical waste incinerators as required by the Clean Air Act.

This petition, addressed to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, takes issue with the 26 medical waste incinerators procured in 1996 as part of an Austrian aid package. The NGO delegation, which included representatives from Balik Kalikasan, Buklod Tao Kalikasan, Caritas Manila, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), Mother Earth Unlimited and the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA), sought the official position of the DOH on the incinerator issue. Undersecretary Lopez clarified that the Department has no option but to implement the law. However, he explained that the Department is constrained by the lack of funds for the installation of alternative technologies. The NGOs urged the Department to seek a critical review of the Austrian incinerator loan and work for its repudiation in the interest of public health, and use the money intended for loan repayment in setting up non-burn waste disposal systems.

Inside the DOH compound (in front of the Secretary's office), artists from the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), joined by Greenpeace activists, rendered a "street play." Dressed up as pregnant women, the performers appeared to have emerged from a colorful mural depicting the dangers posed to present and future generations by toxic pollutants from waste burners. The mural carried the message "Phase Out Medical Waste Incinerators Now. Stop Toxics." Wooden clackers, shaped like skulls in gas masks, were used to sound the toxics threat and remind health officials of their task to phase in safe alternatives to medical waste incineration by 2003.

Bangkok, Thailand - Greenpeace Southeast Asia challenged the new elected council members of the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) to stop the proposed 1,350 ton-per-day incinerator project at On Nut.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia Toxic Campaigner Tara Buakamsiri said: "If this incinerator is built, it will release massive amounts of toxic chemicals over the people of Bangkok. The newly-elected BMA councilors should immediately turn down the proposal to build this cancer factory. "

Greenpeace activists put a 4X6 meter "cancer factory" billboard and posted 40 other signs with the message "stop incineration - stop cancer factory" at the existing On Nut garbage transfer station - one of the biggest waste disposal sites in Bangkok Metropolitan Area.

"Instead of wasted investment in an expensive and dangerously polluting technology, The Thai government must live up to its promise to eliminate persistent poisons. It must stop incinerating waste and start setting up Zero Waste schemes that stop industries manufacturing products containing toxic chemicals and by composting, re-using and recycling the remaining waste," added Buakamsiri.