Residents near STP raise a stink, ask City to act

RESIDENTS living near the septage treatment plant (STP) in the North Reclamation Area (NRA) have complained about the stench from the facility operated by the Cebu City Government and a Yokohama-based company.

The P15-million STP was funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency and manufactured by Amcon Inc. Amcon and the City started operating it in June last year.

The facility occupies the same spot where the City’s old STP was located.

Bert de Castro, one of the residents living near the area, said the operation of the facility was okay in the few months since it started.

“Pero pagkadugayan nakabaho man (But as time passed, it began to smell worse),” he said, although he added there are some days when the facility doesn’t stink.

After observing the day-to-day operation of the STP, de Castro said the reason the facility smells is that the transfer of waste to the processing area isn’t done properly. Some of the waste spills over into the lagoon.

“Ako man unta nang ireklamo sa mayor but wa ko nakahigayon kay unahon man nato atong panarbaho (I was going to report this to the mayor, but never found the time because I was busy at work),” he told Sun.Star Cebu in an interview yesterday.

De Castro’s home and his printing business are located beside the STP.

Another resident, Pedro Lucay-lucay, also said that the facility emits a foul smell on most days and he is asking the City or whoever manages the facility to address the problem before it becomes a health hazard for those living nearby.

When private haulers dump septic wastes in the STP, the facility’s operator Gilbert Pranza from the Department of Public Services explained that these are first transferred to a tank below the Amcon treatment equipment.

Once transferred, septic wastes are then pumped to the processing equipment where the dirty liquid and the sludge from septic tanks are separated.

Pranza said the liquid is then treated before it is disposed of in the nearby lagoon, while the sludge is converted into a sludge cake.

The sludge cake is used for composting by the City Agriculture Office, while the water in the lagoon is filtered before it drains out to the Mahiga Creek.

On why the facility smells, Pranza said it is because there are times when fresh septic wastes are brought to the facility, such as those from portable toilets.

Also, Pranza said there are times that their pumping machine bogs down, so, it takes them some time to process the waste.

When Sun.Star Cebu visited the area yesterday, the STP wasn’t operating because the facility bogged down. It didn’t smell. Pranza said they will fix the STP today.

The STP usually operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In a separate interview, City Environmental Sanitation Enforcement Team (Ceset) Executive Director Randy Navarro admitted they have been receiving complaints from the residents about the foul smell from the STP since November last year.

Navarro said the facility emits a foul smell because of the deposits in the lagoon that were not taken out when it was still used by the City.

The old STP of the City was built in the 1980s and was operational only until 1996, when it was damaged.

Navarro assured, though, that they are already addressing the stench and that the Yokohama-based company will bring more equipment from Japan next month.

The establishment of a new STP in the NRA is an offshoot of the memorandum of understanding that the City signed with Yokohama City in March 2012 for a technical cooperation for sustainable urban development.
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