MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Glenn Defense Marine Asia said Saturday, November 24, it will continue to perform most of its functions as the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) suspended only its disposal of ship sewage.
In a statement sent to Rappler, Glenn Defense Chairman retired Vice Admiral Mateo Mayuga denied a report that the company was suspended entirely.
“Contrary to the Inquirer report, suspended temporarily were only the sea disposal of ship sewage. Instead, these will temporarily be hauled by trucks inland. Glenn Marine will comply with the directive and will continue to operate,” he added.
As a ship husbanding services contractor of the US Navy, Glenn Defense is tasked to provide security arrangements in the harbor, feed visiting ship crew, install special fenders to protect both ship and pier while inside the harbor, and collect kitchen and toilet water from ships, among others.
The suspension order versus Glenn Defense came on the heels of a Senate hearing where Subic Water presented the results of the laboratory testing of waste water samples from the US Navy contractor.
The results showed the waste water contained high amounts of chemicals, oil and grease, and suspended solids that could endanger the lives of fish species.
The SBMA said the waste was not dumped in Subic Bay, but in the West Philippine Sea. The waste was discharged about 32 kilometers away from the nearest shore.
“To prevent this incident from happening again, SBMA has temporarily suspended Glenn Defense Marine’s operations with regard to the collection and disposal of ship sewage in the sea using sea vessels. This applies to all other waste service contractors as well,” SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia said in a statement.
“After securing the necessary permits as is presently required from SBMA for land based disposal of sewage, all such sewage are to be collected directly from the ship at the pier and transported by accredited land-based haulers to be treated in accredited treatment plants,” he added.
The SBMA added that it will also impose the necessary “sanctions and penalties” on Glenn Defense following the violations it has committed. The SBMA is still in the process of determing what these sanctions are and how much the penalties will cost.
Nail in the coffin
More than a month of debates on whether or not Glenn Defense dumped toxic waste in Philippine waters ended on Wednesday, November 21, when the laboratory test results came out.
Subic Ecology Center OIC-Manager Angel Bagaloyos said the samples obtained by Subic Water showed high levels of Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) — which both indicated how much dirt was in the water.
“Tapos na ho ang usapan at kailangan mula ngayon, kung merong pananagutan, panagutan na ninyo,” Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources Committee Chairperson Senator Loren Legarda said during the hearing.
“Maliwanag na merong high level of toxicity, ‘wag na tayong mag-argumento kung may mataas na permissible limit. Dumi ito na nakakasakit at nakamamatay,” Legarda stressed.
Bagaloyos said the recommended BOD level is only 30 milligrams per liter (mg/L) while for COD, it’s 60 mg/L. Samples from Glenn Defense showed higher figures.
Sample 1 from Glenn Defense contained 20,500 mg/L of BOD and 43,982 mg/L of COD. Sample 2 contained 3,500 mg/L of BOD and 3,969 mg/L of COD.
“‘Yong BOD, ito ‘yong indicator nung concentration of organic matter, kung ano ‘yong nasa tubig. ‘Pag mataas ang BOD, ibig sabihin madumi kasi mas maraming bacteria,” Bagaloyos said.
“Halos magkapareho po ‘yong BOD and COD pero ang kaibahan lang, ‘yong COD ‘yong kailangan para ma-break down mo ‘yong organic matter na nand’on, ito ‘yong requirement,” he added.
Further, Bagaloyos said, the test results showed that the samples also exceeded oil and grease standards of 5 mg/L, and total suspended solids of 50 mg/L.
For sample 1, the results showed oil and grease levels of 9,953 mg/L, and suspended solids of 23,160 mg/L. For sample 2, the results showed 492 mg/L of oil and grease, and 820 mg/L of total suspended solids.
Legarda said it has become apparent that there were violations on the part of Glenn Defense. She added that Glenn’s lawyers should not embarrass Glenn Defense Chairman retired Vice Admiral Mateo Mayuga by giving him bad legal advice.
Apart from the bad test results, Legarda said the company did not have permit to dump waste.
During the hearing, Philippine Coast Guard OIC and Vice Commandant for Operations Rear Admiral Luis Tuason Jr. said they did not receive any application for waste dumping from Glenn Defense.
The PCG is mandated to “control and respond to marine pollution” in Philippine waters. This means that they are mandated to “prescribe the procedure and policies” on the proper dumping of waste into the country’s “territorial jurisdiction and exclusive economic zone.”
“The Coast Guard is authorized to control and respond to marine pollution incidents in Philippine maritime jurisdiction and on particular memorandum circular which we implement on the rule prohibiting the dumping and discharging of waste and other harmful matters, the purpose of the said curcular is to prescribe the procedure and policies for the proper dumping of waste and other harmful matters into Philippine waters,” Tuason said. – Rappler.com