Philippines seizes bulk carrier for illegally transporting radioactive cargo from South Korea

Photo: Philippine Coast Guard

Personnel from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) have apprehended the captain and the crew of a cargo ship for failing to present the necessary permits for its transport of a highly toxic substance.

The Philippine authorities boarded the Liberian-flagged bulk carrier Dayang Century as the crew were about to unload the vessel’s cargo of 53,000 tonnes of a substance known as phosphogypsum at the Port of Cabangan in Zambales province on Friday, November 22.

The vessel had sailed with the cargo out of Gwangyang, South Korea, coast guard officials said.

The captain, the crew, and some crane operators at the port were then placed under arrest after they failed to present documents that permitted the vessel to enter Philippine waters with its cargo of phospogypsum, a waste by-product often used in road construction projects.

Coast guard personnel then conducted an inventory of the ship’s equipment and other vehicles involved in the unloading operation while the suspects were brought to the NBI’s headquarters in Manila for further processing.

An official of the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) confirmed that phosphogypsum contained naturally occurring radioactive elements and was therefore harmful to both humans and the environment.

During questioning, the crew said that the cargo was intended to be hauled to San Mateo in Rizal province just east of Manila after being unloaded.

The suspects are to be charged with violating the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990 and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

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