ITOGON, Benguet – The management of Benguet Corporation (BC) wants that its Antamok Level 4440 open pit will be converted into an engineered sanitary landfill for the use of Baguio city and other neighboring town of Benguet in order to address serious issues on solid waste management, sanitation and public health with minimal effect to the environment.
In his letter to Baguio city Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan, Arsenio K. Sebial, Jr., BC officer-in-charge, said the proposal to convert the company’s open pit site into an engineered sanitary landfill would be an alternative use for such property owned by the century-old company that existed in the province since the early 1900s.
“We believe that this can be a viable plan for all in fostering cooperation among the involved local governments. We are positive that the pro[posed engineered sanitary landfill can effectively and efficiently address the waste management needs of Baguio city and the rest of the BLISTT areas,” Sebial stressed.
BC officials are expected to meet with Baguio and concerned municipal officials of BLISTT to discuss the benefits of the proposed project in curbing the snowballing garbage problem in the city and neighboring municipalities.
In early 2000, the BC open pit site was proposed as a site for the bulk water project that would guarantee the daily supply of potable water for Baguio residents but the same did not push through after contentions that the water from the area might have been contaminated with toxic chemicals that were stored in the area following the closure of the mines in the early 1990s.
At the height of the garbage crisis in the city, the Antamok open pit site was proposed as a site for an engineered sanitary landfill but the Itogon municipal government and the Benguet provincial government objected to such plan because of the absence of consultations and the free and prior informed consent of the affected communities.
The Itogon municipal government stands to benefit from the conversion of the open pit area into an engineered sanitary landfill because it will generate additional resources through the payment of the prescribed tipping fees that will be paid by the local governments that will dump their garbage in the said facility to be established as a common engineered sanitary landfill for the Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogn-Sabklan-Tuba-Tublay (BLISTT) area in preparation for the expected increase in the volume of generated wastes caused by the rapid increase in the migration to the said places.
At present, Baguio City and La Trinidad are now hauling their residual waste to the engineered sanitary landfill in Capas, Tarlac which is eating up a huge chunk of their respective budgets and the existence of a sanitary landfill nearby would help the local governments save on the huge expenses being used up for the hauling of waste and subsequently contribute to the upliftment of the status of Itogon in the future.
Baguio City now generates more than 402 tons of assorted waste daily and it is hauling out some 16- tons of residual waste daily with a total annual expenditure of more or less P80 million.
By Dexter A. See