MANILA, Philippines – Environment management officials have issued a Notice of Violation against the JG Summit chemical plant in Batangas that had been spewing a nauseous stench and clouds of smoke for several days.
"A notice of violation has been issued and a technical conference should be called by the regional office within the week," said Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Assistant Secretary Jose Miguel Cuna in a text message to Rappler on Saturday, August 15.
The document acts as a "show cause order" that requires the company running the plant, JG Summit Petrochemical Corporation, to attend a technical conference next week with the DENR Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) Region 4A, Cuna said.
During the conference, staff from the regional bureau will present results of a study they conducted to determine whether or not the chemical plant violated environmental regulations.
According to Cuna, EMB Region 4A staff were able to take samplings from the facility after getting reports of the foul odor and smoke.
The results of analysis of the samplings should be ready by Tuesday, August 18, Cuna said.
The technical conference, based on the findings, will decide how the company and the bureau "will move forward" with the issue, he added.
If found guilty of violating environmental regulations, the chemical plant may face fines and an order to rehabilitate areas affected by the breach.
The chemical plant, owned by business tycoon John Gokongwei, manufactures plastic products – from chairs to food wrappers.
Residents of villages where the plant is located reported sickening fumes coming from the plant's chimneys. Larger than normal flames and clouds of smoke were also reported on social media.
Environmentalists also worry about the plant's effects on the Verde Island Passage, a world-famous marine ecosystem that sits right beside the chemical plant.
JG Summit Petrochemical Corporation's legal department told Rappler on Friday it would not be issuing a statement on the matter.
However its website says their facility uses "industry-renowned" technology and that it manufactures under "strict compliance" of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) quality and environmental management systems. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.