03 August 2009

EcoWaste Coalition Calls for Full Investigation of Rodriguez Dumpsite Incident

Quezon City. An environmental network has called for full-scale investigation of a recent incident that saw portion of the perimeter wall of a huge disposal site in Rodriguez, Rizal caving in and unleashing trash into an adjacent creek.

On Wednesday night, part of the border wall surrounding the 19-hectare Rizal Provincial Sanitary Landfill located in Sitio Lukutan, Barangay San Isidrio in the town of Rodriguez collapsed due to incessant rains.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network of over 85 public interest groups, pressed the inter-agency National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) chaired by Environment Secretary Lito Atienza to ferret out the truth behind the incident that evokes memories of the tragic Payatas garbageslide in July 2000.

“We call on the NSWMC to get to the bottom of the frightful breach in the boundary wall of the Rizal provincial dumpsite that sent trash cascading down the nearby creek,” said Romy Hidalgo of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force against Dumps/Landfills.

“What we saw on television and newspapers, which looked like a ruptured garbage tomb, raised a number of issues as regards the location and operation of the disposal facility,” he added.

“How could this happen to a much-trumpeted engineered facility that has received a seal of approval from the Environment Department and the NSWMC? Given the boom in landfill construction all over the country, we could not help but question the reliability of the rules governing disposal sites in terms of ensuring public health and safety,” Hidalgo said.

Hidalgo is referring to the implementation of DENR Administrative Order No. 10, Series of 2006 or the “Guidelines on the Categorized Final Disposal Facilities” signed by then Environment Secretary and NSWMC Chair Angelo Reyes, which specifies permitting, facility development and
operating requirements for “sanitary” landfills.

“The incident is just the tip of the iceberg. Wait until the leachate takes its heavy toll on the water supply and the people’s health,” commented Rene Pineda, President of the Citizens Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability (COCAPES).

To avoid the health and environmental hazards, the EcoWaste Coalition asked the national and local authorities to move away from dumpsites and landfills and enforce waste prevention, reduction, reuse, recycling and composting programs with people’s involvement and support.

The EcoWaste Coalition likewise advised local officials to inspect disposal sites within their jurisdictions and conduct remedial steps to avert Payatas-like avalanche from happening during the rainy season.

There are 26 “sanitary” landfills (SLFs) currently operating in the Philippines, and 25 that are undergoing construction. There are also 349 sites being proposed for new SLFs. Despite long being outlawed, a total of 1,235 open and “controlled” dumpsites continue to operate in various parts of the country. The data are from the second quarter of 2009 report of the NSWMC.


Note:
To see the DENR DAO #10-2006, please log on to:
http://emb.gov.ph/nswmc/resources/DAO%2010.PDF

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