Seas off 3 Cebu cities declared unfit for swimming
By Morexette Marie B. Erram
Philippine Daily Inquirer
2019-01-11 05:10:35

DEADLY DUMP Hospital wastes, including tubes containing tuberculosis and hepatitis samples, were found floating on the sea off Mactan Island on Jan. 5. —DENR PHOTO

CEBU CITY — Swimming in the seawaters off the cities of Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue and Cebu along the Mactan Channel was prohibited on Wednesday after hospital wastes containing toxic materials were collected there.

An official of the Lapu-Lapu City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) said it was no longer safe for people to bathe at the Mactan Channel as it can cause health problems.

Cenro employees on Wednesday found at least large garbage bags containing lab specimens, like stool and saliva samples, inside tubes along the shores of four villages—Pusok, Ibo, Pajo and Poblacion.

Adelino Padilla Sr., Lapu-Lapu City Cenro officer, said the volume of hospital waste collected in the area was the highest since officials started monitoring for hospital wastes not properly disposed of.

“Some of them might have been thrown from the hospital where they came from,” he said.

TB, hepa

Padilla said some of the wastes contained specimens contaminated with tuberculosis and hepatitis B, according to stickers still placed around the discarded bottles and tubes.

“These toxic wastes are extremely hazardous since they have the capacity to contaminate a certain area and spread unwanted diseases,” he said.

“This is why we urge residents to alert us if they see hospital wastes floating nearby or smell anything foul coming from the sea,” Padilla added.

The Lapu-Lapu City government is conducting an investigation to find out how the medical wastes ended up in the sea.

On Saturday, photos and videos of medical trash, such as used syringes, kidney trays, chemical bottles, a tube containing a blood sample and several gloves were photographed floating near the shore of the village of Ibo in Lapu-Lapu City.

Viral

The videos and photos were uploaded on Facebook, quickly becoming viral.

In a statement, Chong Hua Hospital, whose name appeared on some of the chemical bottles floating on the sea, said it would coordinate with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Central Visayas to shed light on how the medical wastes ended up in the seas.

Chong Hua said the hospital would review its current solid waste management protocol and also assured the public that its waste disposal system was working according to rules.

Another private hospital based in Mandaue City was also being investigated after its wastes were also found at the Mactan Channel. The Inquirer withheld the name of the hospital since it has yet to issue a statement.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza said the local government had issued a notice requiring the hospitals to explain how their wastes were being handled.

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