BAGUIO CITY – The city’s plan to establish an integrated solid waste disposal facility within a 24-hectare portion of Benguet Corporation’s Antamok open pit site suffered a significant setback after joint technical personnel of the Cordillera offices of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB-CAR) and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB-CAR) discovered that no portion of the ceded property passed the stringent criteria imposed by the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) for such purpose.
EMB-CAR regional director Reynaldo S. Digamo revealed that in terms of the terrain alone, the proposed site of the facility will not pass the criteria because most of the place is characterized by stiff sloping terrain aside from the separate findings of the MGB-CAR technical people that most of the rock formations in the area are said to be fractured.
“We thought that the area that was ceded by Benguet Corporation to the local government of Baguio was the area within the camote vein which we earlier found to be feasible for the sanitary landfill and waste to energy project but we were surprised to find out during our recent ocular inspection that the area being subjected to a deed of usufruct is a totally different place although within the company’s Antamok property,” Digamo stressed.
However, the EM-CAR official noted that the company’s old mill site which hosts part of the former warehouse is suitable for the proposed waste to energy plant but they said could not stand alone considering that what is being Planned is the put up of an integrated solid waste disposal facility which has numerous components, thus, the area must pass all the minimum requirements of safety and stability as embodied in several NSWMC rules and regulations.
Apart from the EMB-CAR and MGB-CAR technical personnel, the joint ocular inspection was also witnessed by technical people of the local government who provided the surveyed area of the 24.11 hectares that is supposed to be ceded to the city through a deed of usufruct.
Digamo assured local officials that the EMB-CAR is doing its best to help the local government locate a suitable area for the proposed end integrated solid waste disposal facility that is why they should not get their findings and recommendations wrong considering that they are simply trying to put things in order to prevent the occurrence of any untoward incident that will compromise the agency’s integrity and credibility as a protector of the state of the environment and in making sure that all projects have minimum impact to the state of the environment in a certain place.
Earlier, Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan wants the management of the Benguet Corporation (BC) to expand the 24-hectare portion of its Antamok open pit site that it ceded to the local government so that the suitable area for the city’s proposed integrated sanitary landfill could be included.
The local chief executive made the request after receiving a report from the Cordillera office of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB-CAR) that no area within the ceded property would qualify for the establishment of a landfill considering the terrain of the area.
“We will be setting a meeting with the technical personnel of the concerned government agencies, the local government and the company to discuss the possibility of expanding the area that Benguet Corporation earlier ceded to the city so that the suitable site for a landfill will be part of the area which could be immediately developed to host our proposed integrated solid waste disposal facility.
He added the local government is inclined to pursue the implementation of the establishment of the integrated solid waste disposal facility once the EMB-CAR will issue the required environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for the project when there will be a suitable area for the project provided that the social acceptability of the project will also be secured from the concerned local governments in the area.
According to him, BC management already insinuated its interest to expand that earlier area it ceded to the local government to include that area which will be determined by the EMB-CAR as suitable for the implementation of the project the soonest possible time.
While the local government is still finalizing whatever agreements that it could enter with BC and the Itogon municipal government, Domogan underscored that hauling out of the city’s residual waste remains the best option to prevent the occurrence of garbage crisis that could again affect the image of the city as a premier tourist destination in the north, saying that the utilization of the temporary transfer station within the Baguio Dairy Farm will remain until it will come out with the permanent solution to the problem.
He admitted that hauling out of the city’s generated residual waste to the Urdaneta sanitary landfill is expensive that is why the local government is aggressive in its efforts to find a permanent solution to the city’s waste disposal problem that has been existent for over a decade now and that it has already substantially exhausted a huge chunk of the city’s annual budget.
Once the proposed integrated solid waste facility will be realized, he explained that other neighboring towns in Benguet that do not have their permanent solution to their solid waste management problems will be able to use the said facility to address whatever problems that they are encountering in terms of solid waste disposal.
Part of the proposed integrated solid waste disposal facility will be a landfill, a centralized material recovery facility, an anaerobic digester, a special waste treatment plant, medical and toxic waste treatment plant, a waste to energy plant and the operation of the two Environmental Recycling System (ERS) machines.
By Dexter A. See