DENR looking for Central Luzon disposal site for mercury wastes

Published by rudy Date posted on April 7, 2011

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Central Luzon is in a quandary on where to dump hospital devices and other wastes such as busted fluorescent lights containing mercury.

Raldy Pagador of the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) said the disposal of thermometers which have been replaced by digital ones in hospitals has become a problem as no disposal system for such wastes has yet been put in place in Central Luzon.     

He said the junking of all hospital devices containing the toxic mercury is in accordance with an order from the Department of Health.

He said DOH Administrative Order 08-21 orders the gradual phaseout of mercury in all Philippine health care facilities and institutions.

Hospitals and rural health centers have begun disposing of thermometers and other items with mercury, he said.

The DOH has noted that short-term exposure to high concentrations of mercury vapor can cause harmful effects to the nervous, digestive and respiratory systems, and the kidneys. In most cases, exposure occurred when mercury is heated.    

With thermometers still stocked up in hospitals and other health facilities in the region, the DENR is looking for a site where these could at least be temporarily stored, as no funds are yet available for the expensive treatment of mercury wastes.

“The storage may be a warehouse or an unused building with at least 60 square meters of floor area. It should not be located near schools, residential areas, frequented public places or agricultural fields. It should be at least 500 meters away from bodies of water,” Pagador said.     

He said some private establishments in Central Luzon have funding allocations to dispose of their industrial devices such as fluorescents and bulbs and other items containing mercury by having them treated by the private company Dolomatrix, located in Bacolor, Pampanga.

Mercury-containing wastes at Clark Freeport are also reportedly handled by Dolomatrix. –Ding Cervantes (The Philippine Star)

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