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Environmental watchdog urges inspection of ice plants in Philippines

26 June 2012

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental watchdog, has raised concerns regarding an ammonia leak in an ice plant in Barangay Santa Cruz in Quezon City, Philippines, on Saturday.

The organisation has urged the concerned authorities to inspect cold storage facilities to prevent such incidents in the future, according to the Manila Bulletin.

"The EcoWaste Coalition said inspection has become essential following a series of ammonia gas leaks involving ice plants in the last year."

The alleged gas leak forced hundreds of locals to evacuate the area. In the past, similar gas leaks have reportedly occurred in Pasig City, Zamboanga City, Pulilan in Bulacan and Barangay Bago Bantay in Quezon City.

Ammonia or anhydrous ammonia is a refrigerant used in freezing and refrigeration plants. Exposure to it can irritate or burn the nose, throat, respiratory tract, eyes and skin, as well as cause dizziness and nausea.

Manny Calonzo, the EcoWaste Coalition's former president, said community leaders and government regulators should inspect freezing and storage facilities to prevent ammonia leaks due to engineering flaws, during operations and maintenance and in the event of accidents.

"We hope our proposal will also trigger recognition of the community right to know about hazardous chemicals being produced, stored, used, treated or disposed of in industrial facilities, some of which may be located next to homes and schools, and lead to environmentally-sound management of chemicals and wastes," Calonzo added.

The appeal was targeted at government chemical response departments such as the Bureau of Fire Protection, the Occupational Safety and Health Centre, the Environmental Management Bureau, the Environmental and Occupational Health Office and local government units.

The EcoWaste Coalition said inspection has become essential following a series of ammonia gas leaks involving ice plants in the last year.