An environmental watchdog group urged waste disposal facilities and surrounding communities to actively participate in the metro-wide earthquake drill this coming Thursday.
“The participation of all sectors is essential to avoid loss of life, lessen damage to property and reduce contamination of the environment due to earthquake-induced shaking of the ground,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“Landfills and other waste disposal sites and their host communities are not exempt from the devastating effects of a strong quake and thus the need for emergency readiness,” she said.
“We hope that disposal facilities for Metro Manila’s wastes, including those located outside the metropolis, will take part in the MMDA-led earthquake drill for better disaster preparedness,” she added.
Metro Manila’s wastes, according to the website of the National Solid Waste Management Commission. are dumped in various sites such as the Payatas landfill for Quezon City’s garbage; Navotas landfill, which receives waste from Malabon, Manila and Navotas; and the Rizal Provincial Landfill in Rodriguez, Rizal that serves Caloocan, Las Piñas, Makati, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Parañaque,Pasay, Pasig, Pateros, San Juan and Taguig local government units (LGUs).
Other landfills in operation or under construction in adjacent LGUs include those in Norzagaray, Obando and San Jose del Monte in Bulacan and in Rodriguez and San Mateo, Rizal.
A study by the Environmental Protection Administration of Taiwan, which like the Philippines is located in a seismic and typhoon belt, states that “natural disasters inflict damages on main structures and peripheral engineering” of landfills.
According to the Taiwan EPA’s analysis of damages associated with 921 quake incidents, “earthquake magnitude 5 and over can damage landfill sites that are located in a fault or its surrounding areas.”
“Depending on the extent of damage of storage facilities (retaining walls), collapse, crack and incline of the foundation, retaining walls can get washed out, affecting the safety and leading to secondary pollutions,” the study said.
“Our analysis clearly indicates that for landfill sites struck by disasters, damages are accumulative and chain reactive; moreover, the potential hazard factors can still exist after the landfill sites are recovered,” the study pointed out.