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We are writing in relation to the PCIJ (Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism) article by Ms. Vinia Datinguinoo ("Rockwell's Dirty Secret," BusinessWorld, Aug. 27). We appreciate and share the environmental concern of the article, but wish to give your readers a complete picture of the project. Given my six-year participation in the project, I could provide a longer term technical perspective of the activities and shed additional options available and what can be scientifically verified today.
The introduction suggests Rockwell Power Plant produced a "deadly pond of toxic waste." Actually, there was no pond of toxic waste, and referring to it as "deadly" is quite a leap in assumption. The waste referred to was soil that had been contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyl, otherwise known as PCB. There was no pond of material but rather small hotspots of soil that had been contaminated by PCBs probably spilled during past operation and maintenance operations of the power plant. These were determined by collecting a large number of soil samples and subjecting them to specialized laboratory testing. Without the sampling and testing program, it would be impossible to visually determine if the soil was contaminated or not. Prior to site development, these hotspots were identified, and the soil within and in surrounding hotspots was excavated and stored in a controlled manner.
Prior to and during the excavation program the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources), Rockwell Land Corp. and Meralco (Manila Electric Co.) worked hand in hand to manage the operations. Since this was essentially the first large-scale PCB cleanup in the country, there were no regulations or guidelines for the three parties to follow. As a result, criteria and standards used in the United States and Europe formed the basis of project activities.
Following the excavation activities, a method of treatment and disposal was needed. Unlike in other countries, the …