MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) stopped the unloading of 53,000 metric tons of toxic substance which arrived here Friday, November 22, on a merchant ship from South Korea.
The Liberian-flagged merchant ship that sailed from Gwangyang Port in South Korea was already unloading the toxic substance recognized as phospho gypsum at the Cabangan Wharf in Cabangan, Zambales when a joint team from the PCG and NBI intercepted the operation.
“The ship master, its crew, as well as the crane operators were arrested and were brought at the NBI Headquarters in Manila for proper custody and further investigation,” said the PCG in a statement on Saturday, November 23.
According to the PCG, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said phospho gypsum is classified as radioactive “due to the presence of naturally occurring radioactive elements.”
The ship and its crew face charges of violations of Republic Act (RA) 6969 or Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990 and RA 9003 or Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
According to the PCG, there are tips that 2 other merchant vessels of international shopping companies carrying the same toxic material arrived in Subic Port between August to September 2018.
“But [they] were denied and ordered to return to its originating ports in South Korea,” said the PCG.
The Bureau of Customs also earlier discovered a misdeclared container of assorted electronic parts which, upon inspection, showed to contain electronic waste. The shipment arrived in the Philippines on November 6 from South Korea.
BOC said it will issue an “order of re-exportation” that will direct the return of shipment to its port of origin. – Rappler.com