Environmental groups oppose waste-to-energy project eyed by City Hall

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Saturday, September 15, 2012


SAYING that it is a health hazard, a group opposed Cebu City Hall’s plan to establish a P4-billion waste-to-energy facility at the sanitary landfill in Barangay Inawayan.

The project, which is to be implemented by Greenergy Solutions Inc. (GSI), is supported by Mayor Michael Rama and the City’s Solid Waste Management Board (SWMB).

But the Eco-Waste Coalition said in a forum yesterday that the waste-to-energy project is “incineration in disguise.”

Paeng Lopez of Global Alliance of Incinerator Alternatives, a member of the coalition, said the project will use “gasification pyrolysis and plasma arc” technology to generate electricity from the city’s garbage, including those that are already inside the Inayawan sanitary landfill.

Lopez said the technology has been classified as incinerators by the European Union and the United State Environmental Protection Agency. This means the project violates Republic Act (RA) 8749 or the Clean Air Act and RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management, he added.

Zero-emission

The RA 8749 bans incineration while RA 9003 requires the closure and rehabilitation of dump sites.

Greenergy vowed to use clean technology and will be zero-emission and pollution-free.

Lopez, however, said the cleaner the emissions look, the more toxic the ash is.

“There is no technology in the world that has zero emissions,” he added.

If the City Government pursues the project, Lopez said, the waste-to-energy facility will emit dioxins and mercury which are toxic and carcinogenic.

Prolonged exposure to dioxin, Lopez said, also causes birth defects and mutation.

“There is safe level of dioxin in the body,” he said.

Exposure to mercury, on the other hand, can damage the nervous system and kidneys, among others.

No oxygen

Allan Dinampo of the Pollution Control Association of the Philippines (PCAPI) 7, a member of the SWMB, said Greenergy will use technology that will break down waste without using oxygen.

He said anaerobic digestion is widely used as a source of renewable energy since it lowers emissions of harmful gases.

Atty. Janesis Ponce, head of the City’s SWMB, asked environmental groups to be fair to Greenergy.

“Give GSI a chance to present its proposal. The forum serves no other purpose than to vilify a company that has no opportunity to defend itself,” he said.

GSI is set to present the waste-to-energy project before the City Council in an executive session on Oct. 3.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 15, 2012.

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