Philippines bases polluted

Issue 

Philippines bases polluted

When the US navy eventually withdraws from the Subic Bay naval base at the end of the year, there is one thing it is unlikely to take with it: toxic waste which has accumulated at the site for decades.

In a report dated January 1992, the US General Accounting Office has identified a number of contaminated sites at the base. It also found contaminated sites at nearby Clark air base, which the US handed over to the Philippines in November.

According to the report, the US facilities, particularly those used in underground storage and firefighting, had not complied with US environmental standards. The underground storage tanks lack leak detection equipment and the firefighting facilities do not have drainage systems.

This has led to fuels and chemicals seeping into the soil and water tables. At Subic, the overflow was channeled directly into the bay. The report said that lead and other heavy metals from the ship repair yard's sand-blasting have also drained directly into the bay, or been buried in land fills.

US standards require that such metals be disposed of as hazardous waste. The report says the naval base also does not have a complete sewer system and treatment facility, and most sewage and waste is discharged directly into Subic Bay.

Another area of concern is the power plant at the base. The report says it has been releasing untreated pollutants, including a chemical suspected of causing cancer.

The report was made at the request of a US Senate subcommittee to determine the potential financial liabilities the US would have when it withdrew from the bases.

But the report concluded that the US was under no legal obligation to pay for the clean-up of the waste.
[From World Perspectives/Pegasus.]

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