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Closure of Payatas dumpsite justified, long overdue — Environmental groups

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By Chito Chavez

Environmental groups promoting proper ecological solid waste management (ESWM) stressed the impending closure of the Payatas dumpsite in Quezon City this year is legally justified and is long overdue.

Quezon City Hall (Photo courtesy of Cofi Nuguid via Flickr | Manila Bulletin)

Quezon City Hall (Photo courtesy of Cofi Nuguid via Flickr | Manila Bulletin)

Weighing on its looming closure, the groups asserted shutting down the dumpsite should not be used to justify the construction of a waste-to-energy incineration plant to burn Quezon City’s massive garbage estimated at 2,700 tons per day.

“The permanent closure of the Payatas garbage dumpsite is long overdue,” said Joey Papa, president of Bangon Kalikasan Movement.

According to Section 37 of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, open dumpsites should have been closed in 2004, and the controlled dumpsites in 2006.

“It’s time barangay-based ESWM should be fully implemented by all local government units, as mandated by RA 9003. We have proof this can be done.  At the same time, the closed dumpsite should be rehabilitated,” he added.

The Payatas open dumpsite was converted to a “controlled disposal facility” in 2004 and then closed in 2010.

Papa said the Payatas “sanitary landfill,” which started operations in 2011, would be closed in December this year as it is already near its carrying capacity limit.

“But Quezon City residents must be vigilant in opposing the plan to establish an incinerator plant to replace the dump,” Papa emphasized.

“Among a long list of concerns, waste incineration generates dangerous byproducts such as ash residues that should be strictly managed as hazardous waste.  Some 30 tons of ash is produced for every 100 tons
of garbage incinerated. We cannot allow such toxic ash to get dumped in Payatas, which is so near the La Mesa Dam and watershed reservation,” he said.

Section 48 of RA 9003 prohibits “the construction or operation of landfills or any waste disposal facility on any aquifer, groundwater reservoir, or watershed area.”

“Hauling garbage to the so-called sanitary landfills in Navotas City and in Rodriguez and San Mateo, Rizal offers no real solution to Quezon City’s costly garbage problem.  The only thing it does is to keep the ugly trash out of our sight, out of our minds, for Quezon City residents, that is, while further destroying another community where it will be dumped,” pointed out Daniel Alejandre, zero-waste campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Over P1 billion is spent annually for garbage hauling and dumping. This should be spent, instead, for sustained waste prevention andreduction programs, public education and law enforcement action,” he noted.

RA 9003 provides for waste avoidance and volume reduction through segregation at source, composting, recycling, reuse and other best practices in ESWM excluding the open burning and incineration of trash.

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