January 25, 2012

Asian Port Officials Conclude Workshop with Commitments to Collaborate More Effectively

Filed under: Asia, INECE Secretariat, seaports — inece @ 5:42 pm

The International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE) Seaport Environmental Security Network (SESN) hosted its Third Workshop on Combating the Illegal Trade in Hazardous Wastes Through Seaports with co-sponsorship from the United Nations Environment Programme Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. The workshop was held in Bangkok, Thailand on 19-20 January 2012.

Photo credit Nancy Isarin

Participants at the INECE Workshop (credit N. Isarin)

The INECE SESN Workshop was attended by 38 participants from customs and environmental authorities from 10 countries in the Asia region, as well as from several international organizations. Representatives from countries in North America, Europe and Africa also attended.  The complete list of participating country representatives includes: Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam. Additionally, officials from the Basel Convention Regional Center, AECEN, UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, IMPEL and the World Customs Organization attended the workshop.

The workshop consisted of plenary presentations and small group break-out sessions for training. The workshop was conducted in an interactive setting with opportunities for questions, discussion and networking. Participants also went on a site visit to Laem Chabang Port where officials from the Port Authority who provided an overview of port characteristics and activities, and Customs, who explained their process for targeting and inspecting shipments for hazardous waste. Customs officials also presented several case study examples of seized shipments of illegal hazardous waste. At the port, participants had the opportunity to observe the port’s x-ray technology and to interact with customs officials to learn more about their targeting criteria and screening techniques. Following the visit to the port, participants enjoyed lunch together and wrap-up discussion.

The workshop produced several important outcomes, including a call for greater communication and more intense collaboration among the various national agencies responsible for environmental enforcement at seaports. It was noted that extending this communication and collaboration within the Asian region, as well as internationally, would be beneficial. Capacity building activities, especially in the areas of waste takeback, inspection methods, safety  and risk/threat assessments, were identified as needs for the Asian region. Issues of particular interest included the export/import of electronic waste, the various definitions of hazardous waste and the need for effective regulations. Regular meetings within an active network were identified as necessary to improve communication, collaboration, and capacity building among Asian nations.  It was noted that synergistic alliances between the BCRCs, UNEP ROAP, IMPEL, INECE SESN, AECEN, WCO and other organizations working in the region should be an important component of network development. INECE SESN and WCO will cooperate in the sharing of tools, such as the new INECE SESN Waste Takeback Guidance Manual.

The workshop was an important training opportunity for officials from countries that are participating in the Second INECE SESN International Hazardous Waste Inspection Project at Seaports. As with the first project, each participating country prepares and carries out focused hazardous waste inspections in its own seaports and shares the results with INECE. The Project will provide a means for competent authorities to better evaluate their own capacity for detecting and deterring illegal transboundary movements of hazardous wastes through seaports with the support or tools developed by INECE and international experts. The primary purpose is to build enhanced capacity at ports for more effective inspections of waste shipments through improved multidisciplinary cooperation of officials from environment and customs ministries, police and port officials.

September 17, 2011

Criminal Charges in Major US E-Waste Exporter Case

Filed under: Asia, Chemicals & Waste, North America, seaports — Tags: , , — inece @ 7:39 am

The owner and chief executive officer of an electronic waste recycling buisness in Colorado, USA,  have been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of wire and mail fraud, environmental crimes in connection with the failure to file a notification to export hazardous waste, exportation contrary to law, and destruction, alteration, or falsification of records.

“The investigation confirmed that Executive Recycling repeatedly exported used cathode ray tubes to China. In addition, Executive Recycling also made false promises to its customers who believed that Executive Recycling was properly disposing of their electronic waste. Homeland Security Investigations stands ready to prevent any company from circumventing U.S. controls to export hazardous waste,” said David M. Marwell, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations in Denver, Colorado.

The indictment is the result of an ongoing 30 month investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division.

Excerpted from the U.S. Department of Justice Press Release. For the full press release, see http://www.justice.gov/usao/co/press_releases/2011/September2011/9_16_11.html.

August 5, 2011

Thailand Courts to Launch New Environmental Divisions

Filed under: Asia, Judges and Prosecutors — Tags: , — inece @ 9:19 am

On 3 August 2011, Thailand announced the launch of new “environmental divisions” of its administrative courts to specifically handle cases related to environmental issues.

From the Bangkok Post:

The new divisions are intended to speed up the legal proceedings involving environment-related cases to better ensure justice and solve problems more quickly, said Supreme Administrative Court president Hassawut Withitwiriyakul.The divisions were inaugurated at the Supreme Administrative Court, the Central Administrative Court and nine regional administrative courts across the country.

From The Nation:

On yesterday’s inauguration of a new court division hearing environment-related cases, local administrative courts across the country have more than 1,300 “green” cases in hand, with most of the incidents occurring in Khon Kaen province.

June 8, 2011

AFP: Bangladesh creates anti-poaching police force

Filed under: 9th Conference, Asia, biodiversity — Tags: — inece @ 2:24 am

Tiger Sanctuary in Bangladesh. Photo credit: BBC World Service

AFP reports that Bangladesh will launch a specialized anti-poaching police force to respond to a sharp rise in poaching and exotic animal smuggling.

The 300-member Wildlife Crime Control Unit will be deployed in July as part of a $36 million World Bank-funded project aimed at protecting native endangered species and their habitats, Tapan Kumar told AFP.

“It’s the first time we have created a specific force to combat wildlife poachers who have become increasingly sophisticated,” he said, adding that a recent increase in wildlife smuggling was “alarming”.

Most of the unit will be stationed in the Sundarbans — the world’s largest mangrove forest and home to the critically endangered Royal Bengal Tiger — and will be equipped with modern weaponry and 38 patrol boats, he said.

Full article

April 4, 2011

Philippines Creates Anti Illegal Logging Task Force

Filed under: Asia, biodiversity, Environmental Crime, Forests — inece @ 7:27 pm

Flickr User Roberto Verzo

To ensure enforcement of Executive Order 23, the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources regional office in Legazpi City announced the creation of the Regional Anti Illegal Logging Task Force on 23 March 2011.

To view the full story, click here: http://www.pia.gov.ph/?m=1&t=1&id=24041

March 14, 2011

Condolences to Japan

Filed under: Asia, INECE Secretariat — Tags: — inece @ 1:50 pm

INECE expresses its sincere condolences to all those affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan and to our colleagues there.

March 10, 2011

The Philippines: Seized corals point to Punta Engaño officials

Filed under: Asia, biodiversity, Environmental Crime — Tags: — inece @ 3:02 pm

The Cebu Daily News reports:

A Capitol employee inventories corals confiscated during an NBI operation (CDN PHOTO/TONEE DESPOJO)

Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia said a charge of dereliction of duty would be filed against Punta Engaño barangay officials for failing to detect illegally harvested corals found in their area.

Garcia said the confiscated corals, which weighed more than a ton, included “endangered” species.

“The NBI will be filing the charges. You must understand that they will (have to) file charges against the barangay officials for dereliction of duty,” Garcia said.

Last Tuesday, Central Visayas operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) seized a truckload of corals that was abandoned in barangay Punta Engaño in Lapu-Lapu City.

The corals were brought to the Cebu Provincial Capitol and are now kept in the parking lot.

Joefrey Merencillo, agricultural chief III of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro), said the confiscated corals weighed more than 1.4 tons.

BFAR said that at least three species from the batch were among those identified as “endangered.”

See the full article online, Seized corals point to Punta Engaño officials.

February 25, 2011

EPA orders proper disposal of intercepted electronic waste shipment destined for Vietnam

Filed under: Asia, North America, seaports — Tags: , — inece @ 2:22 pm

A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency press release highlights responses to the detection of an illegal shipment of discarded computer monitors to Vietnam.


Used Computer Monitors by Victoria Reay (flickr)

(Seattle – Feb. 15, 2011) — Metro Metals Corp. and Avista Recycling, Inc. have been ordered to properly dispose of computer waste they attempted to illegally export from Minnesota to Vietnam through the Port of Seattle, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EPA is simultaneously seeking a $31,600 penalty against the companies for violating federal hazardous waste laws. 

Metro Metals Corp., a Toronto, Canada, based company, and Avista Recycling, Inc., a recycling company operating in Hopkins, Minnesota, arranged for the export of a shipment of 913 discarded computer monitors to Vietnam on December 6, 2010. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents intercepted the shipment, which had been incorrectly identified in shipping paperwork as “scrap plastic,” at the Port of Seattle for inspection before it could leave the U.S.

“Companies that collect discarded cathode ray tubes must be held accountable to manage these wastes in compliance with our laws which ensure that they will be properly handled, and not sent abroad to countries that have not agreed to receive waste from the U.S.” said Edward Kowalski, EPA’s Director of the Office of Compliance and Enforcement in Seattle.

Some televisions and computer monitors contain cathode ray tubes (CRTs). Color computer CRT monitors contain an average of four pounds of lead. CRTs may also contain mercury, cadmium and arsenic.

EPA alleges that the companies violated several federal hazardous waste management requirements designed to ensure the proper management and transport of such wastes. First, the companies failed to evaluate their waste and identify it as hazardous. They also failed to manifest the waste or comply with other pre-transit requirements for such shipments. Even more importantly, the companies failed to notify EPA of their intent to export the waste to Vietnam and, consequently, attempted to bypass the process required for Vietnam to consent to receive hazardous wastes from the U.S. before it can leave the country.

For the full press release, see US EPA’s News Room.

January 31, 2011

TRAFFIC: South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network Launched in Bhutan

Filed under: Asia, biodiversity — inece @ 4:15 pm

TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, reported that a South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN) was formally launched at an inter-governmental meeting hosted by the Royal Government of Bhutan on 30 January 2011.  From the press release:

Image credit Peter HarrisonIllegal wildlife trade is a form of trans-national organized crime that threatens many iconic species across the world. South Asia, home to a diverse network of natural ecosystems and varied biodiversity, is especially vulnerable to such threats. Apart from key species such as tigers, elephants and rhinos, there are a variety of medicinal plants, timber, marine species, birds and reptiles are threatened by illegal exploitation and trafficking.

To counter such threats, the eight countries of South Asia [Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka] have come together to establish an organized and co-ordinated body— the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN). …

The critical points decided by the Experts Group during the meeting were:-

  • An agreed action-oriented work plan for joint activities, some of which will begin immediately and which will continue to develop further as the network gathers strength;
  • Establishing a SAWEN Secretariat, which will be hosted by the Government of Nepal;
  • An agreed governance and operational structure for SAWEN;
  • The need for strategic collaboration on communications and fundraising.

…“With the formal operation of SAWEN beginning henceforth, the countries of the region have now reached a milestone in their efforts to counter the spectre of illegal wildlife trade,” said Samir Sinha, TRAFFIC’s programme head in India. “This is an essential piece of a collective effort to conserve a region of outstanding biological richness and diversity.”

January 18, 2011

NRDC Report Reviews Tools for Effective Environmental Governance in India

Filed under: Asia, Chemicals & Waste, Compliance Training — Tags: — inece @ 6:45 pm

A new brief by NRDC reviews tools for effective environmental governance in India, with the goal of supporting Indian civil society and the Indian environment ministry in their work to improve India’s existing structures to enforce environmental laws, particularly in the context of pollution.

To access the information brief, visit  http://www.nrdc.org/international/india/files/governance-fs.pdf.

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