Sunday, January 29, 2006

Gov’t told: Speed up closure of 966 dumps

By Katherine Adraneda, The Philippine Star

A group advocating a zero-waste Philippines has asked the government to hasten the closure of 966 dump sites nationwide and put up recycling centers to replace them.

The Ecological Waste Coalition (EcoWaste), an alliance of groups dealing with waste and pollution issues, noted that the deadline for the legally mandated closure of open and "controlled" dumps draws near.

"Noxious gases, poisonous fumes and hazardous leachate, which put at great risk public health and environment, come from these waste dumps. Let us abide by the deadline set by Republic Act 9003," said Romy Hidalgo, coordinator of the EcoWaste task force for the closure of the dumps.

RA 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2001, prohibits the operations of open dumps for solid waste disposal and all controlled facilities five years after the enactment of the law.

The law requires the conversion of open dumps into "controlled" dumps three years after the passage of RA 9003, and the closure of these converted dumps by Feb. 16, 2006.

"Following their closure, the authorities should carry out post-closure cleanup and rehabilitation to alleviate the migration of toxic leachate and the release of greenhouse gases such as methane," said Eileen Sison, EcoWaste chairwoman.

Thus, she said the government should immediately put up a materials recovery facility (MRF) in every barangay or cluster of barangays "to replace these unsightly health-threatening (waste dumps)" and facilitate organized recycling at the community-level.

Citing data from the National Solid Waste Management Commission, EcoWaste said there are 734 open dumps and 262 "controlled" dumps across the country.

The Calabarzon area (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) has the most number of open dumps with 91, followed by Central Visayas (Region 7) with 89, and Central Luzon (Region 3) with 82

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