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RED DEER, Alberta – As far as the Canadian ministry of environment is concerned, the buck stops with the Philippine government for the nearly 3-year-old problem of trash being shipped from Canada.
Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna was not available for comment regarding a recent petition sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the matter. However, the ministry’s spokesperson gave a statement via email to INQUIRER.net.
Barbara Harvey, spokesperson for the ministry, reiterated that the wastes that ended up on Philippine shores were not illegal under Canadian rules.
“Since the contents of the shipment to the Philippines were materials collected from households, the shipment was not illegal under Canadian regulations,” she said.
Prime Minister Trudeau’s government also did not violate the international agreement that governs all shipments of hazardous waste, the Basel Convention, according to Harvey.
Going by the results of the tests conducted by the Philippines’ Environment Management Bureau showing that the materials shipped were neither hazardous nor toxic, Harvey said the exporters did not require a valid permit from Environment Canada to ship.
“Consistent with our obligations under the Basel Convention, Canada requires exporters of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable materials to obtain a valid export permit from Environment Canada before they proceed with any international shipment of these materials,” she explained.
Permit not required
Harvey added: “However, an export permit is not required for the trans-boundary movement of waste or recyclable materials collected from households.”
Adopted in 1989 by 53 countries, the Basel Convention on the Control of Trans-boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is an international treaty that regulates shipments of hazardous wastes between countries. Both Canada and the Philippines are signatories to the treaty.
In March 2015, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Environment Management Bureau declared the contents of the 103 container vans non-hazardous based on its Waste Analysis and Characteristics Study. Therefore the shipment did not violate Republic Act 6969 of 1990(Toxic Substance and Hazardous Wastes and Nuclear Wastes Control Act). Only 10 container vans were inspected by the bureau.
Between 2013 and 2014, some 103 container vans reached Philippine shores containing household waste materials from Canada. Ontario-based Chronic Inc. whose owner declared they were recyclable plastic materials transported the shipments.
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