Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Michael T. Defensor named 43 firms fund to have persistently failed to comply with environmental standards.

He said the firms had either failed to meet the effluent standards for biological oxygen demand and total suspended solids in water or the emissions standard for particulate matter.

Seven of the firms are currently facing pollution charges with the Pollution Adjudication Board of the Department for Environment and Natural resources (DENR) while another 16 are awaiting PAB resolutions for their fines and penalties.

“There are 16 firms in the list that have already instituted measures to improve their environmental performance and they have actually attained compliance lately. But, their fines for having violated environmental standards are still up for resolution by the PAB,” Mr Defensor said.

The firms have been labelled black for ‘very bad’ compliance and red for ‘bad’.

Sunrise Paper Industries and the Transnational Paper Corp, were the worst pulp and paper mills in the black category, while seven firms from the sugar industry completed the top 10.

Virtually all of the ‘black’ firms failed to comply with effluent standards, particularly in terms of biological oxygen demand.

The ‘red’ industries came from a wider cross section of the business world and included softdrinks and bottling plants, cement plants, pulp and paper factories as well as sugar mills and refineries.

Most firms were local but did include a couple of Coca-Cola and Pepsi’s bottling plants.

Defensor said that the Industrial Ecowatch Program is one of DENR’s public disclosure programs. It was adopted as part of the compliance monitoring system. Initially, firms are evaluated for water media only and then rated according to a 6-colour coding system.

“The DENR has veered away from the conventional regulatory system of categorising the performance of firms as either ‘in compliance’ or ‘not in compliance’. Instead, the firms are now assessed of their environmental performance in several categories using colour-coding,” Defensor added.

Green is assigned to forms with ‘very good’ performance, silver to firms with ‘excellent’ and gold to those with ‘outstanding performance’.

By David Hopkins

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