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'Zombies' protest toxins in waterways

Activists demand action and more information on chemical pollutants

Greenpeace activists dressed as zombies protest against alleged government inaction over industrial water pollution. (Photo: Jed Delano/Greenpeace) Greenpeace activists dressed as zombies protest against alleged government inaction over industrial water pollution. (Photo: Jed Delano/Greenpeace)
  • ucanews.com reporter, Manila
  • Philippines
  • September 27, 2012
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Activists dressed as "zombies" descended on the Environment Department in Manila today to denounce what they say has been the government's inaction on water pollution caused by industry .

The activists demanded the government establish a "Right-to-Know" system regarding chemicals, and adopt a policy to eliminate hazardous waste released by factories into rivers, streams and lakes.

The protest was staged on the eve of International Right-to-Know Day.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaigner Beau Baconguis said the organization "laments" the fact that the government "has not been vigilant in monitoring hazardous chemicals to prevent their entry into our water systems."

The Philippines passed a law on hazardous chemicals 20 years ago, but the government's Department of Environment and Natural Resources has so far issued only five “Chemical Control Orders” for mercury, asbestos, cyanide, polychlorinated biphenyls and ozone-depleting substances.

Baconguis said many of the chemicals discharged into rivers and lakes are carcinogenic and can cause mental disabilities and damage to vital organs.

Greenpeace first launched its water campaign in 2007, and since then, has been urging the government to be more decisive and uncompromising on water protection.

"It is obvious the government has failed to protect us from toxic contamination. Worse, they keep us in the dark about these pollutants," Baconguis said.

Greenpeace urged the government to establish a Pollutant Release and Transfer Register policy that would make information publicly available as a first step to eliminating toxic pollution.

"Unlike zombies which are plain make-believe, poisons in our water pose a real threat and need government’s urgent attention and action," Baconguis said.

Earlier this month Greenpeace launched a three-week event where more than 100 volunteers traveled by boat, bike or on foot along 85 kilometers of Manila's waterways to document potential industry polluters and raise awareness on toxic pollution.

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