South Korea to take back trash shipment

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Dozens of container vans carrying about 5,100 tons of garbage arrived at the Mindanao Container Terminal last July 21 aboard the vessel MV Affluent Ocean.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 23) —  The South Korean government said it would take back the approximately 5,100 tons of trash shipped in container vans from South Korea to Mindanao in July.

"The Government stated that it would take measures to have the wastes in question be brought back to Korea as soon as possible," a statement from the Korean embassy Tuesday said.

The Korean Embassy said their Ministry of Environment and their Customs Service also inspected the exporter of the waste shipment in Pyeongtaek City on November 16. The embassy added the wastes were different from what the exporter declared, and that the documents required for export were forged.

A Verde Soko Industrial Corporation was discovered as the shipment's consignee. The firm earlier said the container vans carried soft plastic and not garbage, claiming that the plastics are raw materials for furniture reprocessing.

Upon checking, however, the shipment contained illegal and hazardous waste materials such as used intravenous lines, light bulbs, and old batteries.

"The Korea Customs Service is investigating the exporter in question for the possibility of its exporting of wastes with illegitimately prepared export documentation. The Customs Service also took a step to forbid the shipment of goods in question waiting to be shipped," the statement added.

Waste and pollution watch group The EcoWaste Coalition lauded the South Korean government's efforts.

"This early, we say 'kamsa hamnida (thank you)' to Korea for doing the right thing and for respecting our nation's right not to be treated as their waste bin," said Aileen Lucero, the group's National Coordinator.