DENR called out to assess capability of alternative landfills

CLARK FREEPORT – Two local government units have called out the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to determine the capabilities of sanitary landfills proffered by the Bases Conversion Development Authority as alternatives to the Kalangitan Sanitary Landfill facing cessation of operations this coming October.

In a statement to media over the weekend, City of San Fernando Mayor Vilma Caluag said the DENR is the principal agency mandated to undertake the necessary assessments and thorough studies to determine the capabilities of the supposed alternative sanitary landfills.

The BCDA, along with the Clark Development Corp., cited in press statements last week sanitary landfills in the towns of Floridablanca and Porac, both in Pampanga, as alternatives to the Kalangitan landfill in Capas, Tarlac.

“As the agency in-charge of regulating and issuing the necessary permits and clearances to operate based on existing laws, the responsibility lies in their [DENR] hands. It is their main responsibility should anything happen,” stressed Calauag.

She noted though that: “The supposed alternative site offered by BCDA will take at least a year to develop and become acceptable as a sanitary landfill to fill in the void left by the closure of the current sanitary landfill in Capas.”

A sentiment shared by other stakeholders, including waste management and sanitation companies, other LGUs, and business groups on the capacity of the alternative landfills to process the volume of wastes currently going to the Capas landfill.

Caluag expressed fears anew that the shutdown of the 100-hectare Kalangitan Sanitary Landfill by October this year as ordered by the BCDA and the CDC will have a severe impact in the capital city and the entire Central Luzon region.

The City of San Fernando, which is home to big companies such the San Miguel Brewery, Universal Robina Corp., three SM malls, aside from a number of hospitals including the regional JBL Memorial General Hospital, brings 11 to 13 bins, which are equivalent to 120 to 125 metric tons of wastes on a daily basis.

She appealed for the retention of the Kalangitan Sanitary Landfill until such time “there is an alternative acceptable sanitary landfill.”

Ensure compliance

Mayor Roseller Rodriguez of Capas, Tarlac, host to the Kalangitan Sanitary Landfill, has asked the DENR to ensure the alternative waste facilities bruited about by BCDA are environmentally compliant.

“The mandate of DENR is to issue the necessary clearance/permit if this alternative disposal sites are compliant with environmental laws to be allowed to accept waste materials,” Rodriguez said, noting that there should be no unnecessary disruption in waste management and disposal process in case the Kalangitan Sanitary landfill is abruptly closed down.

“And much like other LGUs, we will have a difficult time to face the potential garbage crisis,” he added.

A total of 104 LGUs in Central and Northern Luzon have earlier petitioned DENR Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga to defer the closure of Kalangitan Sanitary landfill as they point out its critical role.

“The closure of this facility threatens to precipitate literally overnight, a severe waste management crisis affecting millions of people,” the LGUs warned, urging the DENR to maintain the Capas landfill’s operations while seeking sustainable, long-term solutions to meet the current and steadily increasing future waste management needs of the two regions.

“We are alarmed by the absence of comparable alternatives, as other facilities are either not fully capacitated, non-compliant with RA 9003, too small, or financially unfeasible for our local government budgets,” they added.

Handlers of hospital and toxic wastes, among them the KLAD Sanitation Services, also cautioned in a press forum held early last week against a “major health crisis” should the planned landfill closure materialize.

The environmentally compliant Metro Clark Waste Management Corp., operator of the Capas waste facility, receives from 4,000 to 5,000 metric tons of wastes daily for disposal. Contributed photos

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