Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cleaning up

Whether the waste is toxic or organic, it’s still waste that must be disposed of properly or cleaned up. Seeing this done is the task of authorities in Subic Bay, which is one of the country’s major ports but is also home to beach resorts and fishing communities. Cleaning up the country’s waters has long been a problem, and it is most complicated in major ports. But this is not mission impossible. What the program needs are proper rules for ship waste disposal and, more importantly, effective enforcement of the rules, including the imposition of penalties on all violators. Effective enforcement also includes regular and efficient testing of the quality of water, with the public being alerted on whether it is safe for swimming and the fish caught in it safe for consumption. It’s not rocket science; several countries have been conducting such tests for years. Organic waste can contribute to red tide and can endanger tourism in resort areas. US naval vessels abide by stringent environmental rules when they are at Pearl Harbor, home of the Pacific Command; if there is any water contamination from the naval base, it’s not reaching the pristine public beaches of Hawaii. If ship waste disposal is outsourced by the US Navy when deployed overseas, it should also insist on the contractor’s compliance with environmental rules in the host country. Even better, the host country should ensure that everyone complies with the rules. Cleaning up the country’s waters should not focus only on naval vessels. The government must see to it that every ship in Philippine waters complies with environmental laws. -