“The environment is everything that isn’t me.” ALBERT EINSTEIN
By Alex P. Vidal
The fire at the Calajunan dumpsite in Mandurriao district, now on its fifth day, has become an environmental fiasco after experts confirmed that aside from thick smog that descended the villages, toxic gases such as carbon monoxide were generated from the burning trash thus endangering the health of more than 10,000 residents in some 900 households in the area. The poisonous fumes have also affected nearby towns.
Classes have already been suspended in the following schools: Yusay Elementary School, Sto. Nino Elementary School, Arevalo Elementary, Severo Abeto Elementary School, and Ramon Avancena High School.
The blaze that spread to about 1.5 hectares of the 23-hectare dump since Monday noon could spread further if not contained immediately, according to Bureau of Fire Protection chief, Supt. Jerry Candido.
The cause of fire was not immediately known but firefighters were working double time to control the conflagration as of press time to prevent more harm on environment and health of residents.
Although it’s too premature to conclude if it was intentional or not, the damage inflicted on the people’s health and environment was already in horrific degree, to say the least.
Since it was a dumpsite, the catastrophe would have been prevented had provisions on the development of sanitary landfill sites in the Republic Act 9003 or Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, was developed and operated as a final disposal site for solid and residual wastes.
The law does not allow open dump sites as final disposal sites.
If an open dump site is existing within the city or municipality, the law says, the plan shall make provisions for its closure or eventual phase out within the period specified under the framework and pursuant to the provisions.
“As an alternative, sanitary landfill sites shall be developed and operated as a final disposal site for solid and, eventually, residual wastes of a municipality or city or a cluster of municipality and/or cities. Sanitary landfills shall be designed and operated in accordance with the guidelines set under Secs. 40 and 41 of this Act,” says the law.
Republic Act 9003 is “An Act providing for an Ecological Solid Waste Management Program, creating the necessary institutional mechanisms and incentives, declaring certain acts prohibited and providing penalties, appropriating funds therefor, and for other purposes.”
It was enacted into law on January 26, 2001.
The law has plans to identify existing and proposed disposal sites and waste management facilities in the city or municipality or in other areas.
The plan shall also specify the strategies for the efficient disposal of waste through existing disposal facilities and the identification of prospective sites for future use.
The law states that “the selection and development of disposal sites shall be made on the basis of internationally accepted standards and on the guidelines set in Sec. 41 and 42 of the Act.”
It further states that “strategies shall be included to improve existing sites to reduce adverse impact on health and the environment, and to extent life span and capacity. The plan shall clearly define projections for future disposal site requirements and the estimated cost for these efforts.”
In its general provisions, it declared a state policy to adopt a systematic, comprehensive and ecological solid waste management program “to ensure the protection of the public health and environment and utilize environmentally-sound methods that maximize the utilization of valuable resources and encourage resource conservation and recovery,” among other declaration of policies.