WWF: Oceans becoming toilets; waste dumping rampant

Posted at 11/15/12 3:33 PM

MANILA, Philippines – An international environmental group on Thursday said the recent report of the alleged dumping of a US Navy contractor of toxic wastes in Subic only underscores the larger problem of oceanic pollution.

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines) Conservation Programmes Vice-president Joel Palma said "for over two centuries, military and commercial vessels have been throwing all sorts of waste overboard."

"Large vessels such as cruise ships can generate daily over 110,000 liters of raw sewage and 750,000 liters of gray water (less pollutive water from showers, kitchens and household operations). This excludes solid waste like plastic bags and bottles. All this can come from a single vessel. Cargo ships alone exceed 50,000 globally. Imagine just how much waste enters our oceans daily and you’ll realize how our seas are slowly turning into toilets."

WWF raised this concern following reports alleging that MT Glenn Guardian dumped toxic waste in the waters of Subic.

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the Glenn Defense Marine Philippines Inc. have since denied the reports.

Nevertheless, Palma said "even if the Glenn Guardian wasn't dumping toxic substances, domestic waste such as feces and organic pollutants can cause substantial eutrophication."

The WWF said rampant toxic waste dumping causes algal blooms, which obscure sunlight to limit oceanic productivity.

In 2002, an algal bloom wiped out Bolinao's bangus industry, causing P400 million in lost revenues.

WWF-Philippines Vice-chair and CEO Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, meanwhile, said ships and vessels must be held accountable for the wastes they dump in the sea.

"Unchecked vessel discharges – whether toxic or organic – degrades not just water quality, but oceanic productivity. Given the need to feed our ballooning population, this is a far larger issue than the VFA. Beyond health and biodiversity, the impacts of this will be largely economic. No one wants to eat from a toilet. Would you?" Tan asked.

The WWF is calling for the mandatory installation of modern onboard waste treatment systems and closer monitoring of discharge practices.

Republic Act 6969 or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990 expressly prohibits the disposal of toxics, while Section 27 of the Philippine Clean Water Act prohibits the dumping of sewage and organic wastes into Philippine waters.