AS I noted in my previous column, legislators drafted the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, or Republic Act (RA) 9003, in such a way that it would also function as a guide for government officials on the modern and therefore proper way of managing the handling, collection and disposal of solid waste within their jurisdictions.
Unfortunately, government officials insist on following old practices and this has resulted in, for example, the current aversion to the establishment of sanitary landfills in many jurisdictions. On this, the Inayawan sanitary landfill comes to mind.
The mismanagement of solid waste disposal and the mishandling of the operation of what was once a model sanitary landfill by past Cebu City Hall administrations were so well documented these created the current misimpressions on the handling of solid waste.
The Inayawan facility once followed the pertinent provisions of RA 9003 on the establishment and operation of sanitary landfills. Some provisions of Chapter III, or Comprehensive Solid Waste Management, are clear on this one. Section 41 requires sanitary landfills to have the following:
--Liners, a system of clay layers and/or geosynthethic membranes used to contain leachate and reduce or prevent contaminant flow to groundwater;
--Leachate collection and treatment system (pipes at the low areas of the liner to collect leachate for storage and eventual treatment and discharge);
--Gas control and recovery system, which is a series of vertical wells or horizontal trenches containing permeable materials and perforated piping placed in the landfill to collect gas for treatment or productive use as an energy source;
--Groundwater monitoring well system (wells placed at an appropriate location and depth for taking water that are representative of ground water quality;
--Cover (two forms of cover consisting of soil and geosynthetic materials to protect the waste from long-term contact with the environment):
--a daily cover placed over the waste at the close of each day’s operations, and a final cover, or cap, which is the material placed over the completed landfill to control infiltration of water, gas emission to the atmosphere and erosion.
In the last few years of its operation, the Inayawan facility was no longer a sanitary landfill but a mere open dumpsite. Yet in the years that it was a real sanitary landfill, meaning in its early years, Inayawan folk were not complaining much of its operation. There was constant monitoring to ensure it wouldn’t pollute the surrounding water and atmosphere.
And what about the vehicles that bring the trash to the landfill? Section 24 partly states: “vehicles used for the collection and transport of solid wastes shall have the appropriate compartments to facilitate efficient storing of sorted wastes while in transit...The waste compartment shall have a cover to ensure the containment of solid wastes while in transit.”
Would there have been misimpressions had past Cebu City Hall administrations followed the provisions of RA 9003 in operating the Inayawan facility?