BACOLOD

Sugar mill discharges ‘polluting rivers’

RESIDENTS, as well as some local officials of Kabankalan City, are complaining of water pollution in the major rivers in the area allegedly caused by the waste discharges of a sugar mill.

On her social media account, Representative Mercedes Alvarez (6th district, Negros Occidental), posted on Friday, April 5: “A few weeks ago, I was informed by my brother, Ilog Mayor Genaro Rafael Alvarez, about the foul smell reeking in Hilabangan River. I have seen it for myself and brought this to the attention of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).”

Representative Alvarez also posted that together with Kabankalan City Mayor Isidro Zayco and Mayor Alvarez, they have been coordinating with the DENR, which assured her that the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) is already investigating the matter.

Zayco also confirmed on Friday the existence of foul odor and that the pollution has been affecting Barangay Poblacion.

In a phone interview with Barangay Kagawad Anita Gamboa of Barangay Poblacion 2, Ilog, she claimed that the small fisherfolks in their barangay have also been affected by the pollution in Malabong River that they no longer have any fish to catch. The pollution has caused the fishes to die.

“The river is already colored black and smells so bad now. Even our water wells are drying up. We have been suffering from lack of potable water and we cannot even take a bath for lack of clean water,” said Gamboa.

EMB called for a conference with Universal Robina Corp., which was blamed for the pollution, to determine if there were environmental laws violated by the company. The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office was called in the same conference.

Rogelio Callueng Jr., who attended the conference on behalf of Universal Robina Corp., said that the company will submit a written explanation on why an immediate cessation order should not be issued against the company. The company also committed to seal all exit points of discharges, address the foul odor immediately, and create a monitoring team.

EMB Regional Director Sophie Manuel attested to the commitment.


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