NIMBY

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Monday, June 30, 2014


ARNEL Amparo, San Carlos Bio-Energy Inc. plant manager, said two weeks ago that the company has solved the pollution problem. How, you ask? By barging out its waste materials. As in, out of sight, out of mind.

Not so fast, not good enough, according to Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr., who said that as an environmentalist, barging out would only transfer the waste materials from one place to another.

SCBI’s alternative solution to the pollution problem is to promote “irrigation.” Under the process, they release their waste water to the canefields which helps in the fertilization of the crops.

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As an organic agriculture advocate, I have no problem with liquid fertilizers.

In natural farming, liquid fertilizers are also called Indigenous Microorganism (IMO). Organic growers found that IMO is useful in removing bad odors from animal wastes, hastening composting, and contributing to crops’ general health.

Government agriculturists, academic researchers, NGOs and farmers have promoted IMOs to increase production.

To make IMOs, a technique would be to cook a kilo of rice, preferably organic. After cooling, put the cooked rice in a wooden, earthen or ceramic container.

Then cover the mouth of the container completely with cloth or paper, fixed in place with a rubber band, to prevent water or small insects from infiltrating the concoction.

Next, put the covered container, protected from possible rain, under the trees, in a bamboo grove, a forest floor, or wherever a thick mat of leaves has formed. Leave it there for three days.

After whitish moldy filaments have formed, transfer the entire contents of the container to a larger glass or earthen jar and add one kilo of brown sugar or molasses, preferably organic. Voila, one gets an IMO.

Finally, cover the jar with clean cloth or paper, fixed with a rubber band. Keep the jar in a dark, cool place. Let it ferment for seven days, until it appears muddy.

My problem with the SCBI solution, however, is that its waste liquid does not appear as an IMO. In fact, it warned that its liquid solution is good as long as it does not rain as their water storage may overflow.

In other words, the liquid is a pollutant as it admits. Shifting its waste to canefields sounds more a case of NIMBY (not in my backyard).

SCBI insisted that its bio-ethanol plant in San Cárlos City has stopped emitting foul odor.

That might be the case. But it has to explain more to convince San Cárlos residents that they now breathe easily and that the company has addressed the environmental problem.

Of course, the problem could be how local media has treated the issue. Somehow, I read no attempts to present technical explanations on the “barging out.”

Perhaps SCBI has got to do a better job at public relations. It needs to present complicated technical processes that reporters and readers can easily understand.

Otherwise, I have to agree with Governor Marañón in adopting a precautionary approach. Better safe than sorry.

I can never agree to a NIMBY solution. It simply diverts my problem to my neighbor’s backyard.

No, where pollution is concerned, the approach has to be a NIABY (“Not In Anyone’s Backyard”).

*****

(bqsanc@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 30, 2014.

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