4 Clark sites remain off-limits

    CLARK FREEPORT — Four of five sites fenced off years ago by the state-owned Clark Development Corp. (CDC) have remained off-limits because of toxic wastes left behind by the US Air Force in this freeport.

    One of the sites, covering a few square meters used by the Americans as entomology laboratory, is now open for investors, said Roy Magat, chief of the CDC’s environmental permits division in a recent forum of the Capampangans in Media, Inc. (CAMI) here.

    Still considered unsafe are areas located at the former fuel storage facility near the Clark picnic grounds, at Clark’s gate at Barangay Sapang Bato in Angeles City, at an area near a duty-free shop, and at a former power plant facility, Magat said.

    Magat, however, downplayed the threat of toxic wastes in the areas, saying that toxicity in them seemed to have dissipated and that, at least in one of them, surface ground has been found to be safe and that wastes seem to have seeped into the soil.

    “Now we are looking for ways to layer the wastes from further sinking underground,” he added.

    He said that in the case of the former site of an entomology laboratory, toxic elements were found to have “degraded.”

    In 1994, environmental experts reviewed the closing or drawdown reports of Clark and Subic issued by the US Department of Defense and identified 14 known contaminated sites in Clark and more than a dozen potentially contaminated sites in Subic Bay, the former site of a US naval base.

    Magat said that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has allocated some P21 million for cleanup measures in the contaminated areas.

    He said the World Bank is also interested to help fund detoxifying the sites.

    The US government had acknowledged that both their former military bases at Clark and Subic Bay Naval Facility were left with toxic elements, but has denied responsibility for their cleanup.

    In the year that the US-PHL Military Bases Agreement was not renewed by the Philippine Senate in 1992, the US General Accounting Offi ce GAO) noted that the agreement did not impose any well-defined environmental responsibility upon the US to clean up the wastes.

    The GAO also implied that the Philippine refusal of renewing the treaty agreement rendered moot the issue of US stake in the cleanup of its former military facilities in the Philippines.

    In 2001, the CDC hired Weston International to undertake a soil and water baseline study of suspected contaminated sites in Clark and later confirmed the presence of 22 contaminated “localized” sites.

    The Philippine government had tried diplomatic channels and even filing suit against the US before the International Court of Justice, but these did not lead to any significant move of the US for a cleanup of its wastes.


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here