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Authorities arrest ship's captain, crew over 53,000 tons of toxic cargo

The captain and crew of a merchant ship carrying 53,000 metric tons of a toxic substance from Gwangyang Port, South Korea were nabbed by authorities in Zambales, according to the National Coast Watch Center's (NCWSs) Saturday statement.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) intercepted the Liberian-flagged ship which was carrying phospho gypsum - a substance with "naturally occurring radioactive elements."

The phospho gypsum was being unloaded at a wharf in Cabangan when authorities caught up with the ship.

When asked, the shipmaster was unable to present a permit for operation.

Authorities arrested the master, crew, and crane operators unloading the cargo due to violations under Republic Act (RA) 6969 or Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990 and RA 9003 or Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

All the suspects were brought to the NBI headquarters in Manila for further investigation.

Meanwhile, crewmen told authorities that the cargo was supposed to be delivered to San Mateo, Rizal. — Joahna Lei Casilao/DVM, GMA News