21 August 2013

EcoWaste Coalition Urges NSWMC to Check on Conditions of Garbage Transfer Stations, Dumpsites and Landfills Following Severe Rains and Floods

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network promoting zero waste and public health, urged national and local governmental agencies to inspect all garbage transfer stations, dumpsites and landfills in Metro Manila and adjacent provinces following intense monsoon rains induced by tropical storm “Maring.”  

The group specifically called on the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), which is under the Office of President Benigno S. Aquino III, to check on the conditions of the accident-prone waste facilities amid the stormy weather.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which chairs the NSWMC, is tasked under Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act,  “to exercise visitorial and enforcement powers to ensure strict compliance with this Act.”  

“The severe rains and floods that hit Metro Manila and 10 provinces across Central and Southern Luzon might have loosened  the mass of garbage, created water pools, damaged leachate collection ponds, weakened retention walls or destroyed the fencing of waste facilities in storm-affected areas,” said Christina Vergara, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“As a precaution against hazardous ‘garbageslides’ and spills waiting to happen, we urge the NSWMC to proactively work with local government units as well as with private operators in assessing the safety of the facilities following the harsh weather situations,” she said.

The EcoWaste Coalition recalled that the Payatas “garbageslide” in Quezon City on July 10, 2000 happened after days of incessant rains, which triggered a 50-foot wall of garbage to cave in and bury hundreds of people alive.

On July 29, 2009, the perimeter wall of the Rodriguez landfill in Rizal Province gave way at the height of typhoon “Kiko” unleashing garbage into a nearby creek.

On August 27, 2011, heavy rains caused the retaining wall of the Irisan dumpsite in Baguio City to crush, killing five people.

As per the NSWMC database, there are 21 “sanitary” landfills, 73 open dumpsites and 36 controlled dumpsites located in  Metro Manila, Region 3 (Central Luzon) and Region 4A (CALABARZON) that are located near or within environmentally-critical areas.

Operating landfills are situated in Norzagaray and San Jose Del Monte City in Bulacan, Santa Rosa in Nueva Ecija, Capas in Tarlac, Trece Martires City in Cavite, Kalayaan, Calamba City and San Pedro City in Laguna, Morong, Rodriguez and San Mateo in Rizal and Navotas City and Quezon City in Metro Manila.

The EcoWaste Coalition emphasized that waste disposal sites, including so-called engineered landfills, can never be fully safe even with costly pollution mitigation devices; hence the need for rigorous maintenance and monitoring.

The group reminded that “today’s state-of-the-art landfills are expected to be threats to groundwater quality for hundreds to thousands of years after closure” as calculated by US environmental health experts.

In lieu of landfills as well as incinerators, the EcoWaste Coalition proposed greater investments on effective programs that will prevent and reduce the  volume and toxicity of society’s discards.

Such programs should include clean production, product redesign, toxics use reduction, reduced packaging, eco-friendly consumption, segregation at source, reuse, recycling and composting, as well as the closure, cleanup and rehabilitation of dumpsites and their replacements with community-driven materials recovery facilities or ecology centers, the group said.

-end-
Reference re visitorial and enforcement powers of DENR:
http://www.chanrobles.com/republicactno9003.htm


Reference re dumpsites and landfills in Region 3, Region 4A and NCR:
http://121.58.235.163/nswmc2/


Reference re number of years that state-of-the-art landfills would remain a threat to groundwater quality:
“Three R’s Managed Garbage Protects Groundwater Quality” by G. Fred Lee, P.E. and Anne Jones Lee, Ph.D. (www.gfredlee.com/plandfil2/htm) and “Landfills are Dangerous” by Peter Montague (www.rachel.org)



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