THE Cebu City Government is insisting that the lot at the South Road Properties (SRP) where the city's barangays are now dumping their garbage is a “transfer station” and not a dump site. The intention is obviously to deflect questions on the legality of such a move, which was done after the Court of Appeals (CA) ordered the closure of the Inayawan dump site a few days ago.
Department of Public Services (DPS) Chief Roberto Cabarubbias defines “transfer station” as a temporary holding facility for the garbage until the Cebu City Government finds a new sanitary landfill. In a way, the use of “transfer” is correct in the sense of the “transfer station” being temporary and of the trash--all of them to be sure—being brought or “transferred” to a permanent dump site later.
The problem is that the purchase of a lot for a landfill and the setting up such a facility—one that follows the provisions of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act 2000—cannot be done overnight. It will take months. And with the current setup wherein the Cebu City Council is controlled by the political opposition, the proposal could be overly scrutinized.
In the meantime, the garbage in the “transfer station” will remain “un-transferred” and because the area is small, more “transfer stations” have to be created. Cabarubbias already mentioned possible sites: lots between the areas owned by Filinvest and SM and the lot near the SRP welcome hill. The SRP would end up dotted with dump sites masquerading as “transfer stations.”
But what is the legal definition of a transfer station? Section 3 (rr) of RA 9003 defines transfer stations as “those facilities utilized to receive solid wastes, temporarily store, separate, convert or otherwise process the materials in the solid wastes, or to transfer the solid wastes directly from smaller to larger vehicles for transport.”
This definition is enlarged by Section 25 (“Guidelines for Transfer Stations”), that states that, “Transfer stations shall be designed and operated for efficient waste handling capacity and in compliance with environmental standards and guidelines set pursuant to this Act and other regulations: Provided, That no waste shall be stored in such station beyond twenty-four (24) hours.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 20, 2016.
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