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DENR drones to monitor air pollution in Metro Manila

MANILA, Philippines — Drones will soon fly over Metro Manila to identify the factories, refineries and power plants that are polluting the environment.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) partnered with Clean Air Philippines Movement Inc. (CAMPI) to strictly implement environmental laws, including Republic Act 8749 or the Clean Air Act of 1999

“These equipment (drones) will help us ensure we do our mandated task of monitoring emissions and factories violating our environmental laws,” said Jonas Leones, DENR undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs.

He added that the program, dubbed the Clean Air Patrol, would be piloted in Metro Manila and replicated in other urban areas across the country at a later time.             

“It will augment the efforts of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) to monitor the 20,000 industries nationwide,” Leones said.

The Clean Air Patrol will use drones to track down sources of pollution in identified pollution hot spots.

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Each drone has mapping capabilities and night and thermal visions that can detect heat and temperature sources. It could also identify air pollutants based on how the data are taken and has a range of two to six kilometers from source.

Initially, three drones would be operated by licensed pilots over Metro Manila on a weekly basis.               

EMB director Metodio Turbella said the use of drones and its operation would be at no cost to the DENR.

CAMPI president Michael Aragon said the program would first focus on stationary sources like factories, open burning sites and construction areas and not on mobile sources like motor vehicles.

 “There are other sources of air pollution. We want now to complete the whole picture and look at these other sources,” Aragon said.               

The affected industries will be informed about the results of monitoring and, in case of an adverse finding, the EMB will issue a reminder and require the submission of a compliance plan with timetable. 

Turbella said the DENR would also monitor the commitment of erring industries as indicated in their respective compliance plans.

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