A CITY agriculturist has recommended the closure of the open dumpsite in Dumaguete City, with the increasing volume of trash and other contributing factors that make it more hazardous to humans.
City Agriculturist William Ablong said that as of September 14, there is a perceived increase in the daily volume of trash being brought to the dumpsite in the outskirts of Barangay Candauay, from the previous 40 tons a day to about 80 tons nowadays.
This is most likely brought about by the spike in the city’s population, as well as the number of business establishments, schools, hotels, hospitals and households producing garbage on a daily basis, he said.
With this, a corresponding increase in the amount of methane gas being emitted from the dumpsite is also noted, Ablong said.
Methane is a greenhouse gas and could be dangerous to humans in large concentrations and can also cause spontaneous combustion, he added.
Ablong added that with the erratic weather patterns, especially extreme heat, brought about by climate change, the dumpsite continues to catch fire from time to time, the latest event reported early this week.
He said he did an ocular inspection at the dumpsite on Wednesday after an invitation from the City Council for him to provide an update on its current state.
While the City Council could not accommodate him in Wednesday’s regular session, Ablong said he looks forward to next week, when he can share with the councilors the present status of the dumpsite.
"I hope that the City Council will pass a resolution urging the City Government to purchase a lot for the establishment of a sanitary landfill so we can have the open dumpsite closed for good," Ablong said.
It is mandated by law through Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act that local government units (LGU) establish a sanitary landfill in lieu of open dumpsites, which are now deemed illegal.
The Dumaguete government previously received at least three closure orders for its dumpsite from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
In fact, DENR-Negros Island Region Director Al Orolfo, in a separate interview early this week, announced that the agency had issued some closure orders to LGUs on the island, although he is not certain whether Dumaguete City was included.
He said the LGUs must set aside budgetary allocations for a sanitary landfill, and "we should pressure the LGUs to do this," Orolfo added.
However, Ablong said he understood the limitations as yet for the Dumaguete City Government to procure property for the sanitary landfill.
Attempts in previous administrations proved futile, as it was difficult to get an approval especially with people opposing the establishment of a sanitary landfill in their neighborhood, Ablong said.
He said it would still be the same today, but the City Government would have to continue looking for a suitable piece of land for that purpose, one that is not populated and away from water bodies.
In the meantime, what the City Government is doing right now is to enforce measures for a controlled dumpsite, Ablong said.
The city has installed metal gas vents vertically and horizontally around the entire dumpsite for the release of methane gas form the garbage piles.
After the big fire last April 9 at the dumpsite, the City Government purchased bio-enzymes to speed up the decomposition of garbage and at the same procured volumes of soil to be used as daily cover.
The daily soil cover and the bio-enzymes, however, can be expensive in the long run and are just temporary solutions.
Ablong also expressed the need for the City Government to purchase additional compactor garbage trucks.
At present, the city has 11 garbage trucks, five of which are of the compactor type. Of these, only two are new units, while the rest are old ones that are now regularly breaking down, he said.
At one time, only six garbage trucks were running, such that collection of garbage in the city was highly affected, Ablong went on to say.
"The city needs to engage a more sustainable and long-term solution to the perennial garbage problem," Ablong said.
Closing down the existing dumpsite and establishing a city-owned sanitary landfill must be a “top priority” for the City Government in the allocation of funds for the purchase of land somewhere in the nearby towns of Bacong, Valencia or Sibulan, Ablong added. (PNA)