URDANETA CITY, Pangasinan – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) has issued a cease and desist order for the closure of the sanitary landfill here due to several violations.
In an interview on Friday, EMB Ilocos regional director Dorica Hipe said the landfill has violated the Clean Water Act upon the recommendation of the Pollution Adjudication Board, as well as the Presidential Decree 1586 or the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement, and the Republic Act (RA) 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
“The violation under RA 9003 is the operation of an open dumpsite. Although it is a sanitary landfill, what happened is that they just dumped the wastes and it was no longer being managed. It is no longer based on the operation of a sanitary landfill that it has become an open dumpsite,” she said.
Hipe said it has also violated the Clean Water Act as the analysis on its water sample exceeded the effluent standard and the water pollution violation.
The waste juice from the landfill has reached almost the nearby Sinocalan River system, she said.
“The conditions of the environmental compliance certificate issued to the local government unit (LGU) for the operation of the sanitary landfill were not complied with like the designation of a control officer, submission of the compliance report, and ensuring that the operations of the landfill are in accordance with the guidelines for the proper operation and management,” she added.
Hipe said the LGU may take legal recourse but in the meantime, the sanitary landfill will be closed.
“While it is closed, the LGU should make time for rehabilitation as the equipment will be allowed to enter to somehow manage the wastes. The residents who pass by the gates of the landfill will also be arranged,” she said.
The order was served to the LGU on Friday and the DENR-EMB team proceeded to the landfill to ensure its closure.
Hipe said they had technical conferences with the LGU since 2019 and advised them on what to do but there were still violations seen in 2020.
“We observed due process, we conducted sampling, confirmatory sampling. Once it was confirmed, that’s the time we build our case and endorse it to the central office. They scheduled hearings and conducted (a) series of monitoring activities, issued a notice of violation, conferences, and then lastly the show-cause order. They have given a timeframe until December last year to implement measures. They were given until the end of February but they did not comply,” she added.
Hipe said the LGU has taken some actions but these were not sufficient to address the violations.
Meanwhile, Mayor Julio Parayno III said they will appeal to the DENR to allow Urdaneta City to still use the landfill for their wastes.
“We will do away with the other LGUs dumping in the landfill. More or less, there are 30 LGUs under contract,” he said in an interview.
Parayno said the private company they had a contract with for the rehabilitation of the landfill did not deliver as expected.
“We cannot close it yet because of breach of contract but now, it is the DENR that issued the closure. This private company will have to answer to the LGUs that have contracted for the use of the landfill,” he added.
The landfill located on an 18-hectare property owned by the city in Sitio Calegu, Barangay Catablan was inaugurated in 2011. (PNA)