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Crematoria and cemeteries now required to secure environment certificate

Vol. XXII, No. 125 [ BusinessWorld Online ]

Tuesday, January 27, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

THE ENVIRONMENT department will now require existing and future crematoria, cemeteries and funeral parlors to secure an environmental certificate to monitor the businesses’ compliance with environmental laws, according to a statement released by the department yesterday.

"With recent studies showing [the health hazards] of wastes from funeral parlors and cemeteries, and the operation of crematoria which involves the burning process, we have amended the administrative order to upgrade the classification of these business establishments and require an environmental impact statement," the statement quoted Environment Secretary Jose L. Atienza, Jr., as saying.

"[The requirement] is just to make sure that they comply with environmental laws," Mr. Atienza said in a phone interview.

Mr. Atienza said the department eyes creating a full-blown environmental impact assessment of crematoria, cemeteries and funeral parlors’ facilities following an earlier initial environmental examination (IEE).

Hazardous and chemical wastes like formaldehyde from funeral parlors, if not properly disposed of, are threats to the cleanliness of bodies of water and to public health.

The burning process without any mitigating activities involved in the operation of a crematorium, meanwhile, has a possibility of producing air pollutants such as carbon monoxide and particulate matters, which should be regulated and must comply with air quality standards, he added.

The Department Administrative Order No. 30, series of 2003 requires these establishments only an IEE if the area exceeds or is equal to five hectares for cemeteries. For funeral parlors and crematoria, an IEE is required if the area exceeds or is equal to one hectare.

The IEE is a document similar to an environmental impact statement, but with reduced details and depth of assessment and discussion.

The amended administrative order would require such businesses to submit an environmental management program as a basis for the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) to evaluate their environmental assessment program.

"We will check the facilities of those who apply for permits," Mr. Atienza said. — Neil Jerome C. Morales


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