THE operator of the private landfill in Barangay Binaliw, Cebu City has started correcting the violations cited by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) 7.
Sherwin Santos, ARN Central Waste Management Inc. president and executive director, said they have also taken action to address the “foul smell” and “swarm of flies” that some people said were caused by the landfill’s operation.
Santos said none of those residents and officials who led the signature campaign to shut down the facility have visited the landfill.
“There is no single individual who came in to file a complaint. None of the officials approached me,” he said.
He clarified that the violations were administrative and not related to the environment like the non-compliance in monitoring reports and the hauling of garbage.
He said some trucks spill some of their contents en route to the landfill, which might have caused the foul smell that people had been talking about.
“The foul smell is coming from the haulers because of the fresh garbage (they carry),” he said.
Although it is not part of their job to monitor haulers since they are private, his firm has already coordinated with and required them to upgrade their trucks, he said.
Some haulers are already using compactor trucks to trap the smell of garbage, he added.
Santos said when the truck unloads its garbage in the landfill, the garbage is sprayed with neutralizing solutions to kill the smell. Recovery attendants then segregate the garbage. The residual waste is sprayed with another solution to address the smell. A compactor flattens it, sealing the smell. After an hour, the first layer is covered with soil. Another set of garbage is then unloaded on top and the process begins again.
Santos said they make 20 to 25 meters of layers every day.
Around 80 trucks unload garbage in the site daily, Santos said. They carry 50 tons of garbage on average. But the number goes up to as much as 700 tons on fiestas or on special occasions, he said. The garbage is mainly from Cebu City and Consolacion, he said.
Santos said they were forced to operate three months ahead of their scheduled opening after the Consolacion landfill was ordered closed for rehabilitation.
Beatriz Arcilla, a barangay resident whose house is located behind the landfill, said they can sometimes smell the garbage, but it’s not as bad as others might think.
“The foul smell is only brought by the wind and it immediately fades,” she said in Cebuano.
Arcilla said none of her neighbors have gotten sick from the “foul smell.”
She said they had been informed and consulted before the landfill opened. Now that it’s operating, they’ll just have to observe what will happen, she said.
Barangay Captain Viviane Ruste said she was surprised about the signature campaign to close the facility.
Ruste said some residents started complaining about the smell after a man was killed in the Consolacion landfill.
She also denied the presence of a “swarm of flies” in the barangay.
She said she confirmed that the foul smell did not come from the facility after she visited the site.
Ruste also learned that some of the signatories of the petition thought it had something to do with a financial assistance meeting because the petition did not have a cover letter.
Ruste encouraged residents to learn about the benefits of the landfill.
Meanwhile, Cebu City mayor-elect Edgardo Labella plans to form a committee that will study the impact of the landfill, saying he will not hesitate to issue a cease and desist order if there are violations.
Councilor Raymond Garcia, an ally of Labella, confirmed the development following the call of some residents in the area to close the facility.
“I stand by what the mayor-elect said,” he said.
More than 600 residents in Binaliw and the neighboring Barangay Pit-os signed the petition for the closure of the landfill.
They joined the “Protect Binaliw Movement” that aims to stop the operation of the private facility, saying they are affected by the foul smell emitted by the dumped trash.
A formal complaint against the reported violations of the landfill was also filed before the EMB 7.
While they will still have to discuss their next move once they assume office on June 30, Garcia said what is important is that garbage collection will continue.
In a separate interview, Councilor Joel Garganera said the Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CCENRO), City Health Department (CHD) and newly elected officials should get their act together in addressing the problem in Binaliw.
“What are they (CCENRO and CHD) doing? They should be on top of this,” Garganera said.
Earlier, CCENRO chief Ma. Nida Cabrera inspected the landfill and asked the management to implement measures to address complaints of nearby residents.
This means the current system in garbage collection and disposal continues while the committee that Labella will form will evaluate it.
Starting on July 1, the City will take over the collection and disposal of garbage.
After the Inayawan Sanitary Landfill was closed, the City has been sourcing out its garbage collection. Next month, the Department of Public Services will take the garbage directly to the landfill in Binaliw.
ARN won the contract for the disposal of the city’s waste after placing the lowest bid of P647.59 per ton of garbage disposed. (JJL, RVC)