Landfill ban on 6 septic haulers

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

THE Cebu City Government will no longer allow the six septic haulers to dump their septic wastes at the Inayawan Sanitary Landfill.

Engr. Randy Navarro, landfill manager, said the move is in line with Mayor Michael Rama’s plan to completely close the 15.4-hectare facility to all forms of dumping by October.

“That’s the thrust of the mayor, to totally stop the operation of the landfill by October. This is in preparation for the landfill’s remediation,” Navarro said.


Asked when the new policy will be implemented by the City, Navarro said he is only waiting for the mayor’s new order.

The decision to shut down the facility comes as results of a recent laboratory test showed that wastewater at the landfill failed to pass government standards.

With the poor quality of wastewater coming from the landfill, the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) 7 would not be able to issue the Cebu City Government a permit to discharge wastewater to the sea.


The test on samples taken from wastewater treated by septic tank haulers exceeded the allowable level of a pollution indicator, said Engr. Marcelino Tabuco, Pollution Control Division chief of the EMB 7.

Tabuco said septic tank haulers had constructed a pilot plant at the landfill.

Although the plant was found to be "effective," the wastewater processing time is not enough.

At present, there are at least six septic haulers that dispose of septic waste at the landfill. These are the City’s Department of Public Services (DPS), Cebu Septic Tank Suction and Manual Services, JCM Septic Tank Services, Southern Septic Tank Services, and Lin John Septic Tank Suction Manual and Plumbing Services.

In an interview with Sun.Star Cebu yesterday, Navarro admitted that the private haulers have expressed worries on the new policy of the City, since they don’t know where to dump the septic waste they would collect.

“But anyway, the City will still help them,” he said in Cebuano.

Navarro, though, did not specify in what way the City can help the private haulers.


Navarro said the septic haulers are conducting a series of meetings on how to deal with the new policy of the City.

Navarro believes the City should no longer allow the septic haulers to dump their septic wastes at the landfill, to avoid committing more violations against environmental laws.

Navarro said the City is allowing illegal discharging of septic wastes at the landfill because there are no other areas where they can dump their wastes. The septic haulers are paying a tipping fee that ranges from P5,000 to P10,000 a month to the City.

The septic haulers are currently allowed by the City to dispose of their septic waste at the landfill even if not one of them has been issued an environmental sanitation clearance (ESC) from the Department of Health.

The ESC is required under Presidential Decree 856 or the Sanitation Code.


EMB 7 Acting Director Alan Arranguez said they can’t give the City Government a discharge permit if the quality of the wastewater does not meet government standards.

“Without a discharge permit, it means they (project proponent) did not pass government regulations," he told reporters yesterday.

"We have to check the facility and conduct water sampling. But the focus (of our
monitoring) is not on the kind of wastewater treatment that will be used, as long as the water sample will pass government standards," Arranguez added.

Engr. Tabuco, though, could not disclose the details of the Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) and the Dissolved Oxygen (DO) tests conducted last month, pending the preparation of a report.

The BOD is a measure of the oxygen used by microorganisms to decompose the waste.

When BOD levels are high, the DO levels decrease because the oxygen that is available in the water is consumed by the bacteria.

A low water DO level means that fish and other aquatic organisms may not survive.

There are two sources of water pollution at the landfill: the leachate or the juice coming from solid waste and the septic waste dumped at the site.

The EMB has conducted several investigations on the Sewage Treatment Plant at the Inayawan landfill in 2008.

In a report dated Sept. 28, 2010, the EMB said the sedimentation tank in the landfill's facility was defective and no additional treatment had been added since 2008, although it has been desilted or cleaned with the help of desludgers every six months.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 17, 2011.

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