Issue of November 4, 2018

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‘Itogon landfill site not feasible’
by Rimaliza A. Opiña

The proposed sanitary landfill in Itogon, Benguet is not feasible, according to the Environment Management Bureau.

In his Sept. 21 memorandum to Department of Environment and Natural Resources Regional Executive Director Ralph Pablo, EMB Regional Director Reynaldo Digamo said that based on their site assessment, the proposed landfill located at Sitio Tapac, Barangay Ampucao did not meet the absolute criteria set in Resolution 64 s. 2013 particularly items 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 9 of the National Solid Waste Management Commission.

Items 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 9 refer to criteria on proximity to groundwater resources, proximity to perennial surface waters, local geological conditions (underlying rock formations), seismic conditions (proximity to faults), soil properties and availability of cover material topography (terrain and slope) vulnerability to flooding, and ecologically sensitive or environmentally critical areas.

The site at Sitio Tapac has been identified as a probable area for an engineered sanitary landfill by officials of Barangay Ampucao. It is said to be big enough to accommodate wastes generated by Baguio, La Trinidad, Sablan, Itogon, Tuba, and Tublay.

The barangay council said operating a landfill at the area will not have adverse effects on the environment and that the area has been segregated from the coverage of the National Integrated Protected Areas System (Nipas).

On July 26, the Barangay Council of Ampucao represented by Punong Barangay Eddie Amuasen and Technogen Waste Management Services represented by Mario Donongan signed a memorandum of understanding for the latter to develop a landfill at the site. The council resolution and the MOU were forwarded to the Office of Mayor Vic Palangdan.

On Aug. 3, Palangdan endorsed the barangay resolution and the MOU to the municipal council for confirmation. On Aug. 23, the SB passed Resolution 290 confirming the MOU and on Aug. 29, Palangdan approved the same.

If the assessment done by the EMB showed positive results, Resolution 280 can be used by Technogen to apply for the issuance of an environmental impact assessment and environmental impact system.

The LGU endorsed the MOU despite a protest submitted last year to the Office of the President, through Environment Sec. Roy Cimatu. The protesting residents opposed the segregation of the proposed site from the Lower Agno Watershed Forest Reserve and its delisting from the Nipas. 

Aside from being bothered by the daily operation of the ESL, the residents stated that there are creeks and rivers downstream that supply water to the San Roque Dam and will also affect some residents of Pangasinan. 

They claimed the area has a vast area of fully grown Benguet pine trees and saplings which have been thriving for many years, and the proposal would have an adverse impact on the eco-tourism efforts of the barangay in promoting Mt. Ulap, which is adjacent and above the proposed area. 

They said the garbage trucks going to the area, passing by the Philex-Kias Road, will cause air pollution affecting residents along the road. They cited studies that even the state-of the-art ESL will release toxins in the air and will eventually release toxic-bearing leachate to the ground and surface water.

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