Greenpeace calls for full public disclosure on chemical discharges from factories

Press release - September 13, 2012
“We have the right to know what’s in our water!” Greenpeace today demanded at the launch of the 3-week “Right-to-Know” Water Patrol Expedition along Marikina River. The expedition, which travels for 85 kilometers for three weeks, will examine and document sources of toxic pollution from Marikina River all the way to Laguna Lake during the month of September.

At the launch, thirty Water Patrol Activists in twelve boats investigated and documented possible water pollution hotspots along Calumpang, Marikina. Greenpeace is calling on the government to require factories to disclose the chemical wastewater that they discharge into rivers, as part of a campaign to protect the country’s freshwater sources. 

“Every day, hundreds of thousands of chemicals are being released into the environment, majority of these through pipes that discharge wastewater into rivers and lakes.  Only a fraction of these chemicals have been tested to ascertain the risks they pose to the environment and human health,” said Beau Baconguis, Toxics Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

“The government has no exact data of what these chemicals are, and how much end up in our waterways. Communities along our rivers and lakes directly bear the brunt of these toxic discharges which can ultimately contaminate our source of drinking water,” she added.

Greenpeace is calling for a pollution disclosure system, such as the Pollutant Release and Transfer Registry (PRTR), which mandates industrial facilities to publicly declare the chemicals used in their products and manufacturing processes, and state how these chemicals are discharged, treated and transported.  According to the Greenpeace report “Hidden Consequences” countries which have adopted such policies have been able to drastically reduce levels of water pollution.

Together with partner organizations such as Buklod Tao, Inc., Samahang Magdalo, youth, and community leaders from San Mateo, Rizal, Greenpeace urged the DENR to institute a PRTR policy and implement more stringent water pollution laws. “Only when policies like these are in place, will facilities more likely choose not to use hazardous chemicals, and be mindful of the wastes they discharge into water bodies,” Baconguis argued.

Greenpeace believes that the principles of transparency and accountability which the government promotes should extend to the regulation of hazardous chemicals.  “The current administration’s promise of transparency and accountability should go beyond government contracts and politics to matters that actually concern public health and the environment,” emphasized Baconguis.

Baconguis also urged the DENR to expand the Priority Chemicals Lists (PCL) to include many of the chemicals that have already been determined to potentially pose unreasonable risks to public health, workplace and environment.

Making pollution data available to the public is an important first step to pollution elimination. In the end, preventing toxic pollution is the most appropriate approach for sound industrial development. Preventive measures of water pollution are urgently needed in the Philippines.  The government should:

  • set up a proper pollutant disclosure system (PRTR) through which the public could easily access a wide range of pollution data;
  • immediately establish a list of hazardous chemicals for priority elimination action; and
  • create an action plan with clear timelines to reduce, restrict and ultimately zero the discharges of toxic chemicals.

For more information:

Beau Baconguis, Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, 63917-8715257
Virginia Llorin, Media Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, 63917-8228793