THE Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) found that the Lopez-owned Energy Development Corp. (EDC) is partly to be blamed in a landslide in its geothermal power facility in Kananga, Leyte that left 14 dead and eight workers injured early this month.

In his report to Environment Secretary Ramon J. Paje Jr., MGB regional director Alilo Ensomo Jr., said that EDC seems to overlook the mandatory need to identify and periodically monitor the potential geo-hazards being manifested in the grounds as evidenced by the weak materials along the very steep slope surrounding the mountain where steam pipeline is laid with high probability it may be hit by an inevitable landslide.

“The recent landslide incident in EDC operational area has caused lives and several losses in the power supply to Luzon and Cebu households. This may serve as an eye opener to EDC officials that vegetation cover is not enough to be complacent to ensure a landslide-free environment.” Ensomo added.

Ensomo recommended that EDC must conduct a strict and serious monthly monitoring of ground degradation relative to landslide occurrence. He said that the influx of people coming to the geothermal area needs to be contained before it gets worst for the power facilities.

Ensomo confirmed that an MGB geohazard assessment team sent to the landslide incident, on the same day of occurrence, was not allowed to proceed to EDC area purportedly for safety reason, and instead were billeted in Pongos Hotel in nearby Ormoc City.

The team moved out of the hotel and reached EDC area at 8:45 a.m. the following day. After waiting for several hours, the MGB team was finally allowed to view the landslide area five meters away.

Earlier, Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) has stopped the road construction project of EDC.

Dole regional director Exequiel Sarcauga said he has issued the order to the management of EDC, as well as First Balfour Inc. and JE Arradaza Construction, following the landslide in Sitio Upper Mahiao, Barangay Lim-ao, Kananga, Leyte last March1.

“Findings of the investigation show there are sufficient grounds for the immediate temporary stoppage of operation at PAD 403 Upper Mahiao, where the landslide actually happened. A notice has also been served to the parties to present their respective evidences that may warrant the lifting of stoppage order,” Sarcauga said.

The investigation team found that the condition itself of the worksite posed imminent danger to the life and safety of workers. (Leyte Samar Daily Express)