News Southern Tagalog

2 arrested for dumping toxic chemicals in Batangas river

Two suspects have been arrested for depositing over 16 drums of hazardous waste into a river in Barangay Bayudbud, Batangas, violating RA 6969 and 9275.

Last August 19, officials of Brgy. Sabang, Tuy, Batangas notified police that two suspects were seen throwing barrels of chemical substances into the river at 4:30 pm.

Authorities said that suspects Romano Cabrera, 46, and Mark Anthony Austria, 38, were allegedly caught in the act as huge amounts of foul-smelling foam from the chemicals covered nearby trees and foliage around the river. Cabrera was said to have been involved in selling used chemical containers for profit.

An initial report claimed that Cabrera was washing the drums in a Brgy. Sabang river, after dumping the wastes in the area. Residents of Brgy. Sabang and Brgy. Bayudbud, and those living near them alerted authorities to the toxic stench and the number of dead fishes, leading to the arrests. 16 drums, which contained the currently unknown chemicals, were reportedly claimed from Cabrera by the police.

Police Staff Sergeant Benidick De Jesus said that samples of the acquired substance were brought to the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO) of Batangas for inspection. Reports noted that the Batangas river is currently up for inspection by the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) Management Bureau Calabarzon Office.

‘Patong-patong na kaso’

DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda expressed his dismay through a video message to the reporters, saying “patong-patong na kaso ang kakaharapin ng may-ari nitong lupa na si Mr. Romano Cabrera dahil sa ginawa nitong paghuhugas ng mga gamit na drum dyan na may laman na chemical ng sabon.” 

According to Antiporda, the following violations include the Republic Act 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990) due to mishandling of hazardous waste, and RA 9275 (Clean Water Act), since no cleaning permits were made from the municipal government. 

Asahan po natin na maaaksyunan ito dahil grabe po ‘yung ginawang damage nito sa ating environment wherein naglutangan po ‘yung mga hito at igat dyan sa sapa na ‘yan,” he said.

Elsewhere, another related case occurred in Pampanga, as the environmental group EcoWaste Coalition warned on the careless disposal of old TV units, since the presence of hazardous chemicals in the picture tubes such as antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, and phosphor can greatly contribute to toxic pollution. This took place a day before this incident. [P]

Photo from Tuy PNP

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